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"The competition we started last August is no longer recognisable"

Chairman Ron Martin on maintaining the integrity of the competition

11 May 2020

So where will this all end and what does it mean for our beloved club?

By the time people read this the Prime Minister would have advised us all of the next steps to defeating, or perhaps living with, coronavirus. 

It does not sound as if Boris Johnson will be letting the brakes off any time soon. We can anticipate a very gradual “easing”. That step by step approach must be right if we are not to undo all the good work everyone is contributing through lockdown, including the tremendous work of the NHS and key workers.

So a step by step, tapered strategy, seems likely until a vaccine and/or treatment is available.

Therefore football with crowds looks to be many months away. Football behind closed doors too has its challenges without a vaccine.

Football will return and until it does we have to manage the club's interest with great care.

The Prime Minister's “roadmap” to unlocking should better inform us when that is likely to be.

But what about this season?

That looks virtually certain to be at an end.

Which league will we be in when football restarts? Fans up and down the country would have shared their thoughts on that one; including our supporters who voted in last week's survey by The Echo.

I agree this season should be announced void. The English Football Leagues are predicated on that famous, in my opinion overused phrase; “the integrity of the competition must be maintained”.

With nine or 10 games to go the “integrity” is impaired, in fact damaged beyond repair. The competition we started last August is no longer recognisable. If we are unable to finish the season, is allocating an average points per game fair… of course not. This is a football competition, potentially with many twists and turns, not a pub quiz. Peoples livelihoods are at stake.

People will cite voiding the season is based on self-interest; they are not wrong. The interests of Southend United must come first.

No Chairman of any other club, if he is being honest, would argue differently. There is “self-interest” in every club in each league and it is for this reason that the “integrity” of the competition is said to be paramount. If the competition cannot be finished, then it should be voided.

As every alternative to voiding the season is sub-optimal and not capable of maintaining sporting integrity, a line, in all reasonableness, must be drawn under the 19/20 campaign.

This decision would also best maintain the financial status quo among clubs as it reflects the budgets they started the season with. The challenges going forward, as matters stand, are enough to contend with, let’s not compound that further as a result of a quizmaster!

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