THE line about football being the most important of the least important things in life has never seemed more accurate than this season.

It matters, of course it matters. But even the game that gives so many their highs and lows, their escapes and their memories has had to take a back seat at times through a horrible, testing year for us all.

The game certainly isn’t a matter of life and death. And when it comes to your personal health, that of those close to you or even the wellbeing of those you have never met, it rightly pales into insignificance at times.

But football has kept Scotland going through the pandemic and now football must be kept going through what remains of the health crisis that has cost too many lives and blighted all in this country for too long now.

There has been a somewhat ominous feel to the headlines south of the border in recent days when it comes to Covid and the competitions following the postponement of Manchester City's trip to Everton and Tottenham's fixture at home to Fulham.

On Tuesday, nine matches across League One and League Two, as well as the Championship fixture between Millwall and Watford, were off as clubs battle to contain the spread of Coronavirus.

Thankfully the Premier League have confirmed that they have no plans to consider a pause in the season as they continue to have confidence in their pandemic protocols.

The fact that the idea was even floated, and gained some support in certain quarters, was disheartening and it can only be hoped that our decision makers at Holyrood and Hampden haven't had nervous thoughts this week.

Events south of the border won’t have gone unnoticed in boardrooms across Scotland and there will surely have been various scenarios running through the heads of key personnel at every level.

The priority, of course, must be health and wellbeing.

But Scottish football must do everything in its power to keep the games on this season.

The increase in cases over the festive period remain a source of concern. News of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being approved is another chink of light at the end of the tunnel, but that glimmer is still too far away right now.

Given the shambolic and incompetent way in which the SPFL handled the botched ending to last season, it is hard to have faith in those same figures being able to deal with any situation that threatens the current campaign.

Mercifully, we are not at that stage yet. As it stands, the numbers do not merit a conversation over the future of football in Scotland and there should be no threat to the sport whilst those in it continue to, largely, operate by the rules and guidelines.

Any suggestion otherwise would point to an agenda based on club allegiances.

Having seen sporting integrity and governance lobbed out of the sixth floor window at Hampden in the summer, the same scenarios should not be allowed to play out for a second time.

Scottish football cannot afford another period of in-fighting and political manoeuvring - or even more so than usual - and the financial consequences of a shutdown or premature end would be catastrophic to clubs.

The situation in England may well become more serious in the coming days but the strong stance from the Premier League last night is to be welcomed and Scotland must remain equally as forthright.

The country needs its national sport. Football isn’t the same, but it is something to cherish in dark days.

Those of us who have been fortunate enough to attend matches shouldn’t take the privilege for granted. The chosen few are the lucky ones.

Yes, it has been a very different campaign in terms of access and working conditions and there is no doubt that many aspects could have been dealt with better by clubs across the country so far.

But the positives of being at the game, of just being able to get out of the house, far outweigh the negatives when it comes to over-zealous club staff or finding ways to work in the new normal.

In a world that is anything but normal, the chance to get to Europa League encounters and Premiership clashes has been most welcome.

The brief moments spent socially distanced with colleagues before and after offer respite from the isolation, while the love of the game that unfolds in front of you never diminishes despite it not being anywhere near the same experience as it once was or we yearn for it to be.

The absence of supporters has made this a season like no other and the day when fans are allowed back into grounds safely cannot come quick enough.

The Europa League nights at Ibrox would have lived long in the memory as Steven Gerrard’s side took on their continental rivals with a swagger and confidence and emerged at the top of the Group D table.

And what an outpouring of emotion there would have been this weekend at the second Old Firm clash of the campaign.

Not being able to attend games this term has become more than a frustration and inconvenience for supporters.

This is not just about the sport anymore, it is about a social lifeline that has been cut off as they are forced to watch the action on TV or laptop streams.

There is, of course, a very good reason why fans cannot gather in their thousands right now but an understanding and appreciation of the situation doesn’t make it any less difficult to accept.

Football may not be the most important thing in the world. But we should be thankful that we have it now more than ever.