England and Scotland have a long rivalry on and off the playing field. But ultimately, they’re both part of Britain and the UK. So it may be surprising how different they approach the comeback of football.
England have done everything to restart their season. Players will resume training in small groups on Tuesday. No date for the games has been set yet, but organizers are keen to get started as soon as possible.
But Scotland announced on Monday that their season will not continue. Celtic FC, who led the Premiership with 13 points with eight games remaining, have been declared champions for the ninth consecutive year.
With such a lead, Celtic had a great chance of winning even in a season ended. But the situation at the bottom of the league was more fluid. When the game came to a standstill, Hearts was in last place, the only relegation, but was only 4 points behind Hamilton, a margin that would have been quite possible to close. Now they will be relegated without another ball being kicked.
Money is one of the reasons for the divergence between the English and Scottish plans. England has a huge television contract – worth over $ 1 billion a year at the national level alone. If England failed to complete their season, they would have to return some of the money, and even a part is still a ton of money.
Scotland’s TV deal is much smaller, less than $ 20 million nationally, according to reports. But Scotland get a better deal next season, and no one wants to jeopardize that income. Calling it a season and moving on to a more lucrative future, therefore, seemed like the wisest decision.
Some teams in the Scottish leagues are not happy with the decision. Unsurprisingly, the opinions of most teams depend heavily on how they ended the partially completed season.
Celtic responded on Tuesday with a storm of retweets of congratulatory messages on winning the title.
Hearts’ reaction was very different. “We have said from the outset that we don’t think it is fair that a club be unfairly penalized due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the team said in a statement. “As previously stated, the club have taken legal advice throughout this process and continue to do so.”
Britain’s other two nations, Wales and Northern Ireland, with even smaller leagues than Scotland, have yet to make a decision on whether to try to resume their seasons.
Preakness will be a month after the derby
For decades, the Preakness Stakes took place exactly two weeks after the Kentucky Derby in May. Because of the coronavirus, this tradition has changed. The Preakness has been reprogrammed to October 3, almost a month after the September 5 derby.
There has been a push for more time between Triple Crown races for years, as it happens. The best horses would sometimes run up to once a week in the 1930s and 1940s. But in recent times, the best horses will almost always wait at least a month between races. This has led some coaches to complain that the two week gap between the Derby and Preakness is an anachronism that makes winning both more difficult.
The Belmont Stakes, which normally take place three weeks after Preakness, have yet to be rescheduled. If he sticks to the usual gap, he would stand on October 24. But it seems to be too close to the big end-of-season event, the Breeders’ Cup, still scheduled as scheduled for November 6-7 in Keeneland, Kentucky.
The Triple Crown races will already be very different as it will take place in the fall, as the 3 year olds will be bigger and stronger than they would have been in the spring.
Group hugs and kiss on the cheek
When German football returned this weekend, strict rules were in place: no spectators, many Covid-19 tests and only solo celebrations.
Most of the teams seemed to follow the rules scrupulously, which lasted 50 pages. But a German side, Hertha Berlin, went ahead and celebrated their 3-0 victory over Hoffenheim in a conventional manner, in defiance of social distancing rules. There were group hugs, and one player, Dedryck Boyata, even kissed teammate Marko Grujic on the cheek.
“We are passionate footballers, not robots,” said Vedad Ibisevic, who scored in the match.
No yellow or red cards have been handed out for this passion, and there will be no ex post facto sanction, the league said.