England head coach Gareth Southgate has sent a rousing message to national team fans as football continues to come to terms with the stoppage caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Developments this week have seen the English domestic season put on hold until at least 30 April, while the Euro 2020 finals have been postponed until the summer of 2021, meaning a massive change in Southgate’s plans for England.
But he has sent a rallying cry out to members of the England Supporters Club, asking that everyone looks out for each other for now and insisting that football can help to bring the nation back into normality once the coronavirus pandemic has been brought under control.
Southgate told supporters, “Dear England fans,
“As we would have been gathering our squad for March fixtures this weekend, it felt an appropriate moment to write a message to all of our supporters.
“For everyone in our country, the primary focus of the present - and the coming months - is undoubtedly to look after our families, support our communities and work together to come through what is clearly the most extreme test that we've faced collectively in decades.
“On behalf of all the team and staff, I would like to take this opportunity to send our sympathies to those who have lost loved ones already. Our thoughts are with you and with those who sadly will suffer similarly in the coming period.
“In the way you've all come together to support our team, we must now work together to combat a virus that is causing physical and emotional issues to so many. So, please continue to follow the guidelines for hygiene and also the sensible precautions put in place to control the spread of the virus in order to protect those most vulnerable to its impact.
“That responsibility lies with us all.
“We are also conscious of the economic uncertainty affecting so many businesses and, consequently, virtually every family. Coupled with the unique challenges of self-isolation, the loss of routine to normal working and social life, we face real challenges to our mental wellbeing. Our children may feel anxious with uncertainty. It's not normal for any of us and it's going to challenge us all.
“Look out for each other. Please don't suffer alone, and remember that our great country has come through these enormous challenges before - and, together, we will do so again.
“We were due to play next week and to represent you all this summer, but now is clearly not the moment for us to take centre stage. The heroes will be the men and women who continue working tirelessly in our hospitals and medical centres to look after our friends and families. They won't receive the individual acclaim, but we all know their importance is beyond anything we do on the pitch.
“When we play again as an England team, it will be at a time when not only our country but the rest of the world as well is on the road to recovery. Hopefully we will be closer to each other than ever, and ready for the beautiful distraction that football can bring.
“To play in a European Championship next summer will still be possible for all of our squad and so we shouldn't spend another moment thinking about the postponement of the competition.
“I feel sure that, when that moment comes, I will never have been prouder to be the leader.
“Again on behalf of us all, I wish you and your families strength and love to thrive through the challenges ahead.
“Best wishes, Gareth.”