Plenty of work remains for Brighton despite impressive restart against Arsenal and Leicester
So it’s back, perhaps not in its usual format, but clearly so far as the Albion are concerned the hiatus caused by lockdown looks to have been of benefit.
Clearly none of us should get carried away, but a determined last gasp win against hapless Arsenal on Saturday, was followed up by an impressive point at Champions League-chasing Leicester City on Tuesday.
And but for Neal Maupay’s first-half penalty miss at the King Power Stadium it could have been back-to-back wins, which bearing in mind the Albion before Saturday afternoon were the only one of the 91 professional football clubs in England not to have won a game in 2020.
Obviously there’s still seven games left, and the current tally of 32 points isn’t enough to stay up, so the job isn’t done yet, but I’m confident it will be. And with lockdown significantly scaled down from July 4, while not this season, I hope it won’t be that long before fans the length and breadth of the country will be back in the stadiums.
If anything has become apparent in these troubled times is that football is nothing without its supporters, the sound effects at the grounds are adequate, but only because that’s the only option. Covid-19 will have far reaching consequences in domestic professional football, for the 72 clubs outside the Premier League there are uncertain times ahead.
With the predicted economic recession football in this country will have to press the reset button. Pardon the pun but players and agents, will have to play ball, contracts will have to be renegotiated right across the board otherwise a number of clubs could go to the wall in the next 12 months as many are already predicting.
You don’t need to be Alan Sugar to work out that a recession will mean sponsorship revenue will be hit, and if supporters haven’t got the disposable income they won’t be coming through the turnstiles.
Perhaps now is the time for the EFL to take the bull by the horns and revert back to the old division three north and south, at least for a couple of years? Effectively cutting the country in half with a northern and southern League Ones would provide clubs with reduced travelling expenses along with the supporters, and, with more regional games, larger home attendances.
And in these challenging times for the national game, the hierarchy, with or without the help of central government, should look at more regulation of agents.
The figures don’t lie, this group of individuals take millions out of the sport annually, in 2018, Premier League clubs alone paid £260million to agents – what does our game get for that money?
Out of that money the Football Authorities need to put a 50 per cent levy which is then equally shared between the 72 league clubs; the same could apply for the agents fees paid by Championship, League One and Two clubs, so while agents will still do very well, they won’t be allowed to operate unless they adhere to the new rules. The agents have had a great run, and certainly made hay while the sun has shone, but now’s the time the football needs to cut its cloth and look at every income stream.
But returning to the pitch, it’s Manchester United at home up next, and whilst the Albion aren’t out of the woods just yet, the arrival of the Red Devils brings anticipation rather than trepidation.
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