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When Football Returns...

The ‘MLS is Back’ tournament coming up in Florida conjures up many thoughts of what may lie in store...

Borussia Moenchengladbach v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga
Cardboard cut-out fans at Borussia-Park for the Bundesliga game between Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer 04 Leverkusen in May. Is this what the immediate future will look like in MLS?
Photo by Christian Verheyen/Borussia Moenchengladbach via Getty Images

In a few short months, which to be fair has often-times felt like an eternity, the world has changed. Football has not been left untouched.

Like everything else, the game, unless you are Belarusian, went into lockdown, and you wonder what’s in store as it re-emerges tentatively into it’s new state of existence, where the only spectators are those armchair types, watching at home.

Will we hear debates ad nauseam, over whether artificial crowd noise should be piped through the stadiums, with decibel levels choreographed to heighten when a goal is scored?

Will this accessory be available only to those at home where they can switch it on, or off, dependent on personal preference?

Will we see other clubs adopt the idea of Danish Superliga club FC Midtylland, who plan football drive-ins at their home games when football resumes behind closed doors? Their parking lot can hold 2,000 cars and the idea is to provide big-screens and radio frequency commentary. Fans will be encouraged to make noise; singing and car-horn honking to create atmosphere. They even plan an area designated for away fans...

Will the Impact plan on following suit if ever MLS resumes behind closed doors? The parking lot at Stade Saputo doesn’t match the capacity of FC Midtylland’s but it could be interesting from the novelty perspective.

The five-sub rule will change things. Not sure personally this is necessary. It further dilutes the integrity of competition to change rules in mid-stream, but hey!

I wonder who will be the first coach to make five replacements in a game? Or if any coach will have used up all his subs with 30 mins still to play?

The hairstyles? With barbers and stylists still out of action because of social distancing measures, we have already been treated to some astounding ‘barnets’, as well as some interesting DIY trims. Or are we simply about to witness an increase of baldness on our football fields?

Are we about to see a plethoaa of dodgy, home-made, footballer haircuts?

Goal celebrations as we know them are likely to be a thing of the past, as well as the future, hopefully. But certainly not of the present. No more hugs, kisses, pile-ons nor fans to celebrate in front of; we’re about to see very responsible, socially distanced expressions of glee when yet another Maxi Urruti shot strikes the ropes. Anyhow, it should prevent anyone from getting an arrow in the eye...

I wonder which commentator will be first to crack a joke about the stadium being more like a library?

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-DORTMUND-SCHALKE
Is he celebrating keeping his distance, or scoring a goal? Erland Haaland after registering for Borussia Dortmund against Schalke 04 on the resumption of Bundesliga football in Germany.
Photo by MARTIN MEISSNER/AP POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Home advantage? What actually was that? With no more home fans to ‘suck the ball into the net’ will this apparent benefit simply erode? It’s true that in the first few weeks after the Bundesliga resumption, there were actually more away goals scored than home goals.

And VAR, glorious VAR? Will we start to enjoy VAR stoppages? With no crowd in the stadium to get agitated any more, will we actually begin to welcome heated studio debates on some player’s fingernail being 7 millimetres offside?

It’s the new normal, for a spell at least, but real football, the game as we all know it, can’t come back soon enough.