Sheffield United and football fans are being shafted by authorities and dinner party set again - James Shield's Blades Column

Let’s get this straight. Sheffield United fans - actually, make that football fans in general - are getting shafted yet again.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 5:45 pm

If being herded around like animals before every away trip isn’t enough, or getting blamed for every ill in society by the dinner party set now, post-Euro 2020, the minute they’ve decided the game is no longer fashionable - now we’re supposed to believe that proper supporters, the ones who know a couple of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ doesn’t really constitute backing a team, are disease-ridden imbeciles who need vaccine passports to attend games. Mark my words, if there’s any hint of a spike in Covid-19 cases over the next month or so, we’ll be required to carry bells and holler “unclean, unclean” whenever we’re outside of a stadium.

Curiously, despite the number of supposedly infallible scientists queuing up to tell us that positive tests would already be skyrocketing, exactly the opposite is happening at present. I’m not saying they aren’t experts in their own particular fields. Just that, despite what the social media commentators who still think we should be locked down in bunkers would have us believe, nobody is right one hundred percent of the time. Not even folk who spend their lives peering into microscopes and petri dishes before appearing as a talking head on a news magazine show.

Next weekend, when United return to action with their new manager Slavisa Jokanovic in tow, should have been one of celebration for everyone fortunate enough to have a ticket. If some of those without elected not to attend because they’re worried about transmission, that’s absolutely fair enough. Anyone who mocks them are, for my money, every bit as imbecilic as the people who still can’t see beyond this loathsome virus.

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But how can it be fair, when season tickets were on sale a month or so ago, that folk were told they could watch United in action against Birmingham City without carrying proof of their jab status yet now, according to the mood music coming out of Westminster, the opposite is true? The answer is it isn’t. On them or the clubs themselves, who have been placed in an invidious position by the authorities.

For the record, I’ve received my full quota of Astra Zeneca. I’ve also willingly taken and passed two tests since. No complaints from me.

But let’s just say I didn’t want to get my doses of AZ, Pfizer or the myriad other brands now being injected into people’s arms. The last time I checked, we don’t live in a dictatorship or bio-security state so I’d be perfectly within my rights to say ‘no’. (Thankfully, because the scope of legislation inevitably expands as the ‘Walter Wolfgang Affair’ shows).

If I’ve already reserved my seat for the forthcoming campaign, I’d be up Dirty River without an oar to hand. And I’d be wanting my money back from United too, even though they’d have actually done nothing wrong. If there were thousands of others in the same situation as me, that could wreak havoc with their budgeting.

Sheffield United supporters cheer on their team: Simon Hulme

That would be unfair on them. But then, if nothing else, passing the buck towards someone else is this government’s greatest skill.

Sheffield United fans: James Wilson/Sportimage
The Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield