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The wait continues

New look, same old bollocks…

Hope you like the new design by the way, I’d been threatening promising to do this for a while and decided last week to just get it done.

I think it looks a bit more contemporary, and I’ve added the odd little bell-and-whistle that a couple might notice.

If there’s something missing apart from the usual lack of quality in the writing, just let me know. I was never much good at coding or web design…

I tell you this because let’s face it – there’s not much else going on right now.

True, I’m sure the very moment i press “Publish” the club will issue another massive update, rendering all this irrelevant again.

But we are where we are, I guess. As you read this, in the ordinary world that seemed a lifetime away, we would have just played Coventry.

We may have been safe by now. We might instead be already planning trips to Crawley and Port Vale next season, and KM will be even more funereal than usual.

Either way, by now the season should be over.

That’s it’s still all up in the air keeps us in purgatory. When will the season restart? Indeed, will the season restart?

That’s the $1bn question, and even the Premier League can’t answer that right now, let alone us L1 lowlifes.

While I’m still convinced that if the PL can resume they will, I’m not nearly so sure for our division. And that only gets stronger the longer it goes on.

Last week, the Accrington chairman (who seems to be pushing for the season to end now) posted this from John Coleman, and while it’s over a couple of weeks old, it probably reflects the thinking of those lower down today.

For those who haven’t read it, it doesn’t say much that you didn’t already know – contracts expiring on the 30th June will be a major issue, released players have precious little time to find new clubs, and the sheer practicality of playing behind closed doors.

Oh, and player safety as well. Which along with the logistics involved for EFL clubs right now is why I suspect our season is over.

That said, while nothing will go ahead without regular mass testing, players would probably be at more risk shopping at the nearby Tesco after they’ve played a game.

I imagine anyone remotely sick will be forced into fourteen days playing with themselves, and in truth professional footballers are among the lowest risk groups. Look at how Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi made full recoveries.

Whether they want to play or not is another matter, though everyone (and I mean everyone) you speak to in football will say that players want to be out on the pitch most of all.

Anyone who doesn’t probably won’t be forced to play, but like so many other people slowly returning to work again, it’s their job and they have to do it…

None of this helps us at AFCW one way or t’other. Should L1 restart, we’d have to firstly go up to Doncaster to play that game. Then back to SW London to face that all-important Tranmere game. Then up to Lincoln for that one.

And so on and so forth.

For our remaining fixtures to be completed before 30th June, we would have needed to be back in (pre-season?) training by now, with the first game around next weekend.

That we’re still in lockdown, and probably will have current restrictions until after the May bank holiday** makes all that irrelevant.

** – that said, anyone else believe that the government etc are giving nods and winks aplenty to various industries?

For example, why would the Premier League announce that training may resume by May 18th, and the whole Project Restart thing isn’t being stopped dead in its tracks?

I‘m still 70/30 convinced the PL won’t finish – though it will try to come back – but remember Ligue 1 was going to restart until the French government said “non”…

So we’ll need options if we can’t return. Null and void is possible, though I suspect unlikely for legal reasons alone. Promotion only and no relegation might be on the cards, but equally might not be.

A “mini tournament” would be a weird one but logistically more possible than trying to play out the whole season with all the teams. And if they can arrange it at neutral venues and have the required safety precautions, it might end up being a goer.

Plus, it means we stay up.

In fact, I don’t think there’s any PPG scenario where we go down if they decide to have relegation without a further ball being kicked. And the scenario that every Wimbledon fan should be pushing for is this one

It’s nice to speculate, because right now that’s all we can do. From a L1 point of view, it might be best to work out a conclusion and start again in September.

Which might throw up its own difficulty. Not so much playing the games but whether L1/L2 clubs can afford to have them behind closed doors.

There’s a lot of speculation right now about the viability of 20/21, whether it can even start or finish.

To be honest, I think there’s currently an equal amount of scaremongering about, with people trying too hard with their Piers Morgan impressions.

Firstly, September is four months away, and we’ll be a helluva lot further down the road of knowledge over this. Testing, tracing, treatment, and other things beginning with “T” will be more advanced than they are at the moment.

Part of the reason why so much has been shut down has been because they’ve known fuck all about CV19. They’ve not known how to deal with it, how it spreads, how to properly treat it, how it mutates to stay alive, whatever.

But they’re learning so much more every day.

When September comes, we’ll be in a much different place, and a better one too no doubt. Knowledge is power, and we’ll be a lot less impotent in four months time.

I don’t think holding off 19/20 and resuming it in September will work, to be honest. We’ve played too many games – it’s not like we’ve completed just twenty.

If a season should be carried over until the next campaign, it’s 2020/21 – start it as normal, accept there’ll be some further disruption and if by April 2021 we’ve only played 25 games or so then put it where 2021/22 would be.

By all means dump the Carabao Cup and the thingy next season, and maybe even do likewise to the FA Cup (let’s face it – it’s not nearly so important these days).

Front-load the fixtures so that if there’s a second wave in October/November, a good number of games will have been played already.

It’s not ideal, but nothing is right now.

As for the whole behind-closed-doors-for-all-of-next-season stuff that some are gossiping about – that leaves two options : either bail out everyone lower down the pyramid or face the political catastrophe of clubs collapsing en masse.

Think of the shock when Bury went under, times that by X amount and you’ve got some idea of the potential for the game to be permanently damaged.

Especially as football is seen as over-rich and over-greedy enough – and by a load of its fans too.

I refuse to believe there couldn’t be some workaround, especially for the lower league clubs who need people through the gates.

If people have had CV, and they’ve fully recovered, why should they not be allowed into a sports stadia?

I don’t particularly like the idea of an entire season getting played behind closed doors, although a restriction up until January 2021 might just – just – work.

For now, you can get away with it. Summer is coming, restrictions will be relaxed and it’s long been the case that you never fully get back into the season until a month down the line.

But when the nights draw in, the weather turns shit, furloughing ends – that is, if you have a job to go back to – and people are getting sick of the whole CV thing by then anyway, that’s when little comforts like going to a game and having a pint with your mates get noticed.

I think the politicians know that, even if the scientists don’t.

What that means for us at AFCW I don’t know, and I wish I kept my mouth shut after the Bolton game when I said the following:

Personally, I think something will happen that will delay things by some more months, it’s the way the whole project has panned out And if I’m being honest, until we announce the loan formally then we’re not (metaphorically) home and hosed.

I ought to stop making such predictions, they have a worrying habit of coming right.

If 2020/21 is to start behind closed doors, couldn’t we just play our games at NPL? I assume by then the pitch will be playable, and we could focus on the important things like the dressing room and press areas.

It will be the biggest irony of the lot that we get it completed but nobody can watch games in it.

We won’t need to worry about safety certificates** in terms of crowd, and it will save us having to bother with hanging around KM any longer.

** – according to something I nicked off a Brentford forum, about Lionel Road:

The safety certificate is more about the ground itself. The issue will be if they can evacuate in 8 minutes and get everyone to the relevant assembly points.”

Actually, mentioning the Bees and KM is quite poignant this weekend. Brentford were supposed to leave Griffin Park, but that has been denied them.

That’s got to suck for them, especially leaving a much-loved (though very antiquated) venue, and no guarantee of a final farewell.

On the other hand, the (vast) majority of AFCW fans have probably seen their last competitive fixture at KM.

When you put that in such terms, it’s quite stark really. No farewell, no buildup to saying goodbye, nothing.

But then, that’s quite typical – we left Plough Lane without warning, and the less said about the final game at Selhurst the better.

And really, I don’t think it will be massively missed. It’s not, and never has been “ours” to begin with.

My last (final?) game there was Ipswich, and it felt like a nuisance being there. Us playing at KM, not me turning up for a game that is.

Somebody that evening said “this will be the only thing I miss about this place”, referring to the mingling of people in the bar areas beforehand.

Afterwards, I think I realised how little I will miss that as well.

As for the big homecoming, that will now be anti-climatic, and if there is to be no games open to crowds for the whole of next season, it’s going to be a frustrating head fuck.

But at least it will be built, and I’ll expect we’ll survive. As will most clubs, providing they a) get help, and b) jettison their high earners.

A lot of players in our league and below are going to start needing to get real about their wages.

You can find stories about how much some in L1 are getting pretty easily, but a wage reset is on the cards.

Although I expect such a reboot will only last temporarily – once normality resumes, so will the price footballers will demand – it’s going to be a bleak time for many.

Your heart bleeds as well as mine.

Will some L1/L2 players have to go part time to ensure they can play football? Perhaps, though the thought of Mr Championship-Quality working the McDonalds drive-thru appeals.

On second thoughts, he’ll get injured handing out a Big Mac.

The only thing we know about anything right now is that we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks and months.

All that we guarantee is that the moment the season formally ends, the OS announcements about players departing will appear pretty rapidly…

It’s going to be a strange close-season, isn’t it? The build-up to returning home won’t happen, at least in the way we hoped it would.

I don’t know what that’s going to do for ST sales, the initial “have a look around our new home” tours that were no doubt getting planned.

That said, it will be a good time to start building up momentum for the time when we can finally watch a home game.

Because it will be when and not if. Always remember that.

I’m sure there are lots of things we can do to keep us in the conscience of the local community, and the Dons Local Action Group is a good one.

Getting publicity for it on ITV London is all well and good, but it’s at the street level where it really matters.

I’ve seen stalls in Morden, Wimbledon, outside Tesco in New Malden, and yesterday I passed our Academy van outside Sainsburys in Wandsworth.

That kind of thing sticks in peoples minds, especially with the buildup to returning home.

If you want to be slightly cynical about it – cynical, moi? – it’s a good way of making non-affiliated locals think “I’m not into football but I might go to a game now”.

Because every club is going to need to bring back people into grounds once normality resumes, and we’ll be no exception.

Admittedly I haven’t paid much attention to this sort of thing over the years, but the need to build up our name locally again becomes paramount to our future.

We’ve spent three decades being out-of-sight-out-of-mind in Merton after all.

In the AFCW era, we’ve never been able to do too much locally because of the capacity limitations of KM.

Plus, our home from 2002-2020 has been four miles away, which has always been a little bit of a hassle, especially getting away after the game.

We’ve got an unexpected window to not only get our name out there in Merton again, but to push home why we should matter to it.

And right now, people are going to remember the individuals and groups who did something for them…