As Liverpool march relentlessly towards their 19th league title, there is also another major story breaking that involves the number 19. The spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), which has now spread to every continent except for Antartica.
@SteveTaylor71 explores what this could mean for Liverpool FC, and their march towards the title.
Simply put, Coronavirus could impact on the Premier League race, but where other Premier League teams have failed, can the virus be the thing to stop Liverpool in its tracks?
To examine this further, there have been examples we can look back on to see how they were dealt with, and explore what could happen in the coming weeks. The most recent and high-profile cases have been seen in Africa where amongst other diseases the Ebola outbreaks have impacted on events, some of which were run at the height of the outbreaks. In 2015, the African Cup of Nations in Guinea was placed into doubt, but with the correct surveillance precautions, and education in place alongside isolation procedures should they be needed meant the tournament could go ahead.
With the Coronavirus though, we have already seen sporting events impacted. The Six Nations game with Italy and Ireland has been postponed, all J-League games in Japan have been postponed until the middle of March, in the next round of games in Serie A, 5 games will be played behind closed doors, and the Rugby Seven in Singapore have been postponed. These are just the high-profile events, with Skiing, table tennis, basketball and many other sporting events postponed or cancelled in a bid to halt the outbreak spreading.
So, what could happen in the UK? According to Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, ‘It is only a matter of time ‘ until COVID-19 spreads in the UK. That said, we are being told that the NHS is ready and primed to deal with any outbreak. Already, there is already talk of school closures, so what could be the impact on football?
The worst case scenario is that the Premier League, based on medical advice, postpone games. Other options would of course be to play games behind closed doors. The safety of fans and halting the spread of the virus is paramount, but how surreal would it be to see Liverpool win the title in an empty stadium while millions around the world watch at home on their TV screens?
We also know that the Premier league attracts fans to its stadia from all across the world. Another very real prospect is that the UK restricts flights from countries with high levels of the coronavirus. With mainland UK being an island, the advantage is of course that we can lock down the borders if necessary. Keeping the borders open though, increases the likelihood of the disease spreading.
So, whilst there is a certainty now around Liverpool winning number 19, the COVID-19 virus has now given us some uncertainty on how and when we might secure it. Lets hope the next few weeks see a limited and contained spread of the virus, and that Liverpool continue their unbelievable run and Jordan Henderson gets to lift that trophy high into the sky as Liverpool regain their spot at the pinnacle of English football.