So, wha’s like us?

New strips in salute of the work of the NHS and clubs up and down the country feeding the most vulnerable on their doorstep. Celtic have committed significant funds via their ‘football for good’ initiative which provides meals for those who have been affected financially as a result of the Covid-19 crisis; Partick Thistle are offering meals to those most in need in the local community while Aberdeen have done likewise. Rangers players and staff donated 15 iPads for patients in a Glasgow hospital.

If coronavirus has brought out the best in football clubs who have shown themselves to be key pillars within the community during the most surreal times, it was still difficult to escape the more insidious side of the game as Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, spoke this week.

As she burst the football-behind-closed-doors balloon, there are potential reasons behind the call that are of an ilk few other countries will have to really consider as they look to get some kind of normality back up and running.

The Scottish football calendar went into lockdown with eight league games remaining for the majority of teams; Rangers and St Johnstone had an extra fixture to catch up on.

At first glance, the call to stream games from behind closed doors offers value and initiative at a time when the stark economic reality that is facing clubs starts to take hold.

Danish club FC Midtjylland have come up with a novel solution, erecting giant screens outside their stadium and inviting their support to watch games – possibly as early as May – from within their cars round the stadium’s perimeter. Commentary will be streamed through their car radios with the aim being to create some kind of connection between the players, the game and the support.

Even aside from the fact that Denmark dealt very quickly with the health threat to minimise its impact, there are factors which mark Scotland as different from their European neighbours to the extent it feels a bit like living with The Simpsons and peering over Ned Flanders’ fence. The certainty is that Scotland has social circumstances which feel fairly unique.

The biggest factor is the two Old Firm games which currently remain unfulfilled. Alcohol consumption has risen steadily with lockdown. The boozing that goes hand-in-hand with the fixture is frequently cited as a trigger – and the stress is on the word trigger – for domestic violence.

Taken together, it is a fairly toxic mix to throw into a situation when public services are already stretched to breaking point.

Indeed, it was only nine years ago in 2011 that the Scottish government changed the laws of the land on the back of a particularly hostile game at Celtic Park between Celtic and Rangers.

Having had five weeks now of the same message being fed daily to stay at home and safe lives, it remains fairly staggering at times to clock the flouting of a message that has fallen on many deaf ears. Be it the teenagers playing fives at the park – tops off – or the busy pavements, is there really any optimism to suggest that weighted games could be played without incident?

In any case, the likelihood this season is that the league will be called as it is. UEFA opened that door on Thursday but the bigger problem is that if the solution of closed doors is removed going forward then there is a serious economic issue looming.

One does not have to be a virologist to understand that without a vaccine for Covid-19, any return to life before lockdown seems highly improbable. The rationale among us who eschew the kind of ‘cures’ that suggest injecting Dettol into the bloodstream can appreciate that even if we are – and that is still an if – at the peak of the virus then as soon as we open the doors to pubs and football stadia and schools that the inevitability will be another surge.

Equally, one does not need to be an economist to appreciate that without the regularity of matchday income and season ticket sales that football clubs have another kind stark reality facing them.

Finding common ground and sensible solutions is a formidable ask. Football is the most important of the least important things to many. In a Scottish sense, there would be few who would be unaware of the strong cultural placing it has and while it is background noise so long as the virus is claiming lives, the fact remains that football’s need for direction and action is pressing.

Just what that is may be as big an ask as sourcing a vaccine.

If, as expected, the league is called as it stands there will be plenty who have a cause for grievance.

But spare a thought for AZ Alkmaar in Holland. When the Dutch league was suspended, Ajax topped the table simply by virtue of their goal difference.

For all the friction that will be caused by declaring Celtic champions now it is unimaginable in Scotland that the league would conclude under similar circumstances.

UEFA’s softening stance on blocking entry into European football for those who called seasons prematurely means that both would progress to the Champions League qualifying rounds but it would nevertheless feel like a sore way to lose a title.