We are barely into the season but already it is impossible to ignore the feeling of walking on eggshells throw this campaign.

It is not a huge surprise. Rising numbers of Covid cases has underlined the fragility of the country emerging from lockdown and regardless of the bubbles that football clubs are operating in, it is impossible to shield from the routine of daily life.

Any player with kids at school or a partner at work or with a car that requires fuel and a stomach that requires sustenance will be exposed at some level to the virus. Same as the rest of us.

The only certainty ahead of a ball being kicked this season was that the Coronavirus was going nowhere. And at some point it will take a wrecking ball to the campaign.

What form that may come in, who knows. It might be half a dozen positive tests for one squad ahead of a big game, it might well be a lockdown that forces the derailment of football again.

Nobody can predict the vagaries of the virus but what is extraordinary on the back of the bitterness and rancour of last season and its conclusion is that there are no hard and fast regulations in place to deal with it.

It is impossibly myopic to expect to get through the season without needing some frame of reference to deal with any chaos that the virus will impose on the game.
Hamilton are currently in the thick of it at the minute with three positive tests coming out of the club this week. This is football’s new normal. But without leadership and direction that, you run the risk of chaos.

Next month the BetFred Cup will get underway with teams who have part-time players holding down day jobs and playing football at night entering into the mix. The bubble that the top flight teams have been in will be punctured fairly quickly when sharing a pitch with up to 16 players who haven’t been tested and who could be in contact with any number of people in the build-up to the meeting.

The current feeling is that the SPFL board will refer to UEFA guidelines that so long as a team have 13 fit players that their games will go ahead.  It is absurd that clubs and the board have not consulted on this given that there will be no clubs who will sail through the season unaffected, regardless of the thoroughness of the testing structure.

St Mirren have felt the brunt of it already. With three goalkeepers out of action, the Paisley side were told if they didn’t get emergency cover in then they would fulfil their fixture against Hibs with an outfield player taking up the place between the sticks.
It is bizarre that there no parameters in place to deal with this very issue.

Surely clubs and league authorities could have got together before the league began to come to a consensus on what could constitute a postponement and what was acceptable to continue on with?

Three outfield players missing isn’t the same as three goalkeepers out. Would it have happened before an Old Firm game, if either team was facing a similar predicament? Not a chance.

It is baffling that there is nothing concrete in place to cope if there is a repeat of last season and there needs to be a premature curtailment of the campaign.

In a season which is weighted already as Celtic look to go and win a tenth successive title, what happens if there are seven games remaining to play and Rangers are top of the league on goal difference?

The common-sense approach ought to have been some form on consensus before games got underway to address all of these issues.

St Mirren will not be the only team to face up to personnel problems. The issue with the virus is that it is so perniciously contagious that it can’t be treated like a hamstring injury or an ankle knock with the player who tests positive simply ruled out. Ultimately there is every chance that if one member of a team tests positive that there will be a domino effect through at least some of the squad.

If your squad is decimated at what point can you request a postponement?
Keeping players in the bubble and protecting them as much as possible can also insulate them from so much. Which is why it also feels odd that UEFA opted to press ahead this season with the Nations League tournament as well as the Champions and Europa League.

With teams having to fly all over the continent while governments are imposing various stages of restrictions seems counter-productive in keeping the virus at bay and preventing cross contamination.
That there are more questions and answers says much about the lack of direction from the relevant authorities.  

And another thing...

Scotland is a small country and active levels of participation in sport fall steeply the minute the transition is made from primary to secondary. Football remains the biggest draw, but even here the numbers dwindle starkly once the teenage years hit. 

To that end, it seems entirely nonsensical that schools would close the door on anyone wanting to play. Team trials still select the best players and nowadays that often means kids who are already signed up on pro-youth terms elsewhere. 

You cannot lament the impact of Playstations and Xboxes on the health of the next generation without being serious about doing something about it. Street football has long gone, the hire of pitches can be prohibitively expensive and daily life runs in tandem now with screens and devices. That is just where we are.

Mental and physical health rates are repeatedly exposed, particularly among the under-25 generation, as cause for concern yet we continue to deploy a system of selective participation in sport. It is idiotic for reasons too many to list.

Scotland’s dropout rate from football academies and performance schools is vast. 
If there was ever a way to utilise these young players for whom a career path they intended did not materialise, surely it is in coaching through the school system, particularly at secondary school level. 

By all means stream the best players in the best teams. Have various levels for team sports. Push the best players, make demands of them and see where it takes them. A tiny, tiny percentage of them might make a career out of professional sport. 
But don’t turn your back on kids if they turn up with the desire to be involved.