This state of this pish in the herald....
Declaring Eredivisie null and void hard to take for clubs like Ajax
By Graeme Macpherson @Graeme_Macphers 2 hrs ago
Ajax manager Erik ten Hag with coach Winston Bogarde
THERE is nothing more frustrating than the feeling that any kind of endeavour has all been for nothing. Frankly, everything is such an effort these days that it feels there has to be some kind of outcome to celebrate come the end of it. Otherwise, what was the point in even starting to begin with?
There is a big difference, of course, between wasting time and a waste of time. This column has previously extolled the simpler pleasures to be derived during lockdown – from pottering around absent-mindedly for days on end, one small task savoured after another.
Extensive research conducted over the past month has now revealed a correlation between levels of enjoyment and the location of one’s offspring. So, when they are outside playing, optimal levels of satisfaction can be achieved by staying indoors. And vice versa.
Doing something for little or no gain, however, is a whole other story. That can make the blood boil of even the most mild-mannered folk.
It takes a certain kind of perverse logic, for example, to continue driving the wrong way looking for a lengthy detour rather than performing a U-turn because to do so would be to admit the previous three hours’ journey had been entirely pointless. An extreme but understandable course of action as most reasonable people would no doubt agree.
Similarly, the only fitting response to messing up a crossword or sudoku puzzle is to immediately take the cursed newspaper outside and plunge it deep into the midst of the recycling bin, thus both literally and metaphorically burying the memory of that wasted experience.
Goodness only knows, then, how the good people of the Netherlands have managed to retain their composure this weekend following the decision by their football association to effectively declare the league season null and void.
Most teams in the Dutch top league have played 25 or 26 matches since the season started way back on August 2. That has to count for something.
All those training sessions endured, the sweat spilled in the gym, the tactical analysis, and the gruelling 90 minutes themselves put in by players and managers week after week. The money invested and the miles clocked up by the loyal supporters to attend every game.
The hours put in behind the scenes by staff in ticket offices, hospitality suites, and club shops. The painstaking attention to detail put in by groundsmen and women to prepare a pitch every second week, the vital jobs carried out by maintenance staff. The turnstile operators. The programme sellers. The workers in the pie stands. Are they telling them now they did all that for nothing?
Heck, even the media sent to cover these games. Nobody has ever said writing or broadcasting about sport is a hardship but there have been moments this season when, truth be told, you would rather have been elsewhere.
Trying and failing to avoid the deluge of rain in the Tynecastle press box during Storm Dennis. A freezing midweek game at Cappielow in December where it was proving nigh-on impossible to keep a laptop balanced on your legs as you were chattering so much with the cold.
The sweltering hot afternoon in Paisley in August and the unfamiliar, disconcerting sensation of it being too bright to see your screen. It all has to count for something.
Spare a thought, then, for poor Cambuur, leading the Dutch second division but now told that their year-long dream of joining the big boys next year has expired.
Their head coach Henk de John called it “the biggest scandal ever in Dutch sport”, a sizeable claim when you recall Edgar Davids, Jaap Stam and Frank de Boer once tested positive for Nandrolone, or the time former St Mirren defender Jeroen Tesselaar rather disrespectfully called Paisley a “s***hole”. Allegedly. Did he not visit our stunning abbey and magnificent town hall?!
But you can understand De John’s frustration as the reality sunk in that his players’ eight-month long efforts had been instantly deemed null and void. “Try again next year” isn’t a message any coach ever wants to have to relay to a dressing room.
These are, of course, unprecedented times. The Dutch government had already declared that no major events could take place in public until September, meaning there was next to no way for the football season to be played to its conclusion.
With Ajax and AZ Alkmaar only separated by goal difference at the top, perhaps it was felt it would have been unfair to crown either champions. But it would still have been better to find a way than simply consigning the entire season to the dustbin.
It will hopefully not set a precedent. Imagine the outcry if Liverpool are denied their first title in 30 years or celtic are similarly left frustrated despite their commanding lead at the summit up here. And you don’t have to be a fan of either side to see the injustice in either of those outcomes.
Sport is, of course, about the journey as much as the destination. But all that competitive grind has to be worth something in the end.
There have to be winners and losers, champions and teams relegated, to acknowledge that all that commitment and effort wasn’t entirely futile. After all, there is nothing worse than something that turns out to be a complete waste of time.