The magazine Private Eye has a regular column called Colemanballs. It was a term coined by the magazine to describe verbal gaffes perpetrated in sports.
Well there was one absolute corker a few weeks ago: ”A Premier League football stadium is the safest place you can be. Safer than your own living room” said our vice- chair Karren Brady last month
It seemed yet another Karen gaff as just a few days later Issa Diop, Josh Cullen and David Moyes made a quick exit from the London Stadium having tested positive for Covid-19.
This happened just an hour or so before we were due to play Hull City in the Carabao Cup. But the esteemed Baroness was not finished yet.
Just a few days later she called Hull boss Grant McCann ”stubborn” and “blindly dismissive” for refusing to take Covid tests paid for by West Ham.
She went on to say his attitude was unnecessarily stubborn and does nothing for football’s hopes to bring back crowds.
There really does seem to be real confusion on the matter of what to do in the case of a positive test.
Take for example a statement made by East Sterlingshire who play in the Scottish Lowland League.
This statement was as follows: ‘Over the last 24 hours we were made aware that one of our squad has tested positive for Covid-19. Today we have been contacted by the NHS contact tracing and we have been informed that all our players and staff are to self isolate for 14 days.’
How confusing is that one player in Scotland means postponement and isolation for two weeks, three positives in east London and the game can still go ahead.
If we go back even further was it not the positive test from the Arsenal manager that finally closed down last season temporarily? Confusion reigns.
So what does the law say, as now it’s no longer guidance. It’s been the law of the land from September 28.
Well in simple terms it states that anyone with symptoms should isolate immediately. If they receive a positive test then they are required by law to self isolate for 10 days.
Other members in that household must self isolate for a period of 14 days.
I was thus slightly surprised that the Hull game actually went ahead.
One team member testing positive would be concerning but three is a distinct worry. There is a high risk of infection when a person does not maintain social distancing and also if in the presence of an infected individual for over 15 minutes.
I thus had to question just how three individuals could become infected at around the same time, coincidence I’m not so sure.
They clearly were in each other’s presence during training and in fact on the pitch. My assumption would be that the risk of infection was heightened for our other players and support staff.
Therefore should those who had come into contact with the three have then immediately gone into self isolation for 14 days? It seems not in the EFL and Premier League’s eyes.
To forfeit the Hull game would have been a disappointment for us the supporters but maybe the safer option.
It would have also saved David Sullivan with the need to shell out £50,000 to transport the team to Everton. But more importantly a postponement would have protected lives.
But things have changed since March. In the earlier days of the pandemic in the UK it eventually, after some dithering, became lives over the economy.
The football season was put on hold. Now in the latter days there is a clear desire to push for normality despite the second wave and that seems to be the rule of thumb for football.
How else can you explain why three club members in England test positive and the game goes ahead while one player in Scotland tests positive and the game is postponed.
It’s just so confusing. Confusion has continued with the cases occurring with EFL teams.
Firstly Leyton Orient where the local council halted the game against Spurs from occurring due to Covid-19 positive tests.
Then just a few days later the fixture between Cheltenham and Grimsby where, and I quote ‘due to a positive case of Covid-19 being identified within the Grimsby Town squad it had resulted in other players and staff requiring to self isolate in line with EFL and government guidance’.
But it added that each individual case is assessed on its merits and medical advice given.
Grimsby’s following game too was cancelled. It is believed that Grimsby have just one confirmed case yet Stevenage who played Bradford had three.
It’s as if the Prime Minister’s senior advisor is running football at the moment and rules are on a piece of elastic.
It does though show the fragility of our sport. Not wishing ill will on anyone or making light of a serious situation but for the club they were slightly fortunate on who had caught this awful bug.
Josh Cullen is a bit-part player who no doubt would have been sold in this transfer window, whilst Issa Diop is not exactly having a stellar season.
And as for David Moyes he had a great back room staff who could, and have shown, they are up for the job.
Imagine if it had been Antonio or Bowen who had tested positive? It’s not worth thinking about. With no vaccine in sight, it almost felt inevitable that a club’s season could be significantly affected by this disease, it may even be a causation for a team’s ultimate destiny.
Imagine an already fragile West Ham team without its key players, it’s a scary thought.
But I will leave you with one other thought. At the time of writing there has not been only one positive test in the current American football season and that despite the bigger squads and having to travel large distances in the number one country for infections.
Closer to home there have only been 10 positive tests involving Premier League teams in England, yet three of those were at West Ham. Did anyone say the club is cursed?!