Okay, with people losing their jobs (and getting ill) all over the world, and no football occurring until May (likely it will be much longer), I’m updating everyone on the plans to keep TTT active and hopefully still in existence when we emerge from this global crisis.
My aim is to keep the staffing levels at full for as long as possible, and to keep producing content (indeed, even more if possible, by serialising various of mine and TTT’s books; the whole of Mentality Monsters, on last season’s incredible European success, will be serialised for subscribers over the coming weeks and months). We will aim to produce the same amount of new writing on the site, just no match reviews or previews!
However, I’ve no idea how this will play out, other than the best estimates are that it will peak in the UK in June, and it could take some time after that for normal life to resume.
While everyone who works for TTT does so on a freelance basis (as this is a very small business that I have no intention to grow – just to keep us all able to eat!), I make a point of paying on the day of any invoice, and I will seek to absorb the losses rather than cutting back anyone’s hours or pay. This should be possible for quite a few months, but it depends on the scale of any potential drop-off in either interest (as there’s no active matches) and people’s own financial situation. Normally when there’s no football there’s an open transfer window, but we don’t even have that right now.
And obviously the football seems largely irrelevant at a time like this, but it is why we all use this site.
And we will do our best to keep running, given that this is almost a refuge for sick, unemployable people! I have M.E. and asthma, Daniel has Behçet’s disease, Chris (in is 60s and going to Liverpool games for about 50 years) has had a chest infection since January (and is awaiting X-ray results), and Rox on the Helpdesk has had several serious heart problems. They are all essentially people who started off volunteering to help a decade or so ago (when the site was just for my work), and who quickly started getting paid for their work.
We all work remotely, so we’re used to that side of things. But we’re all vulnerable to this virus, too.
Andrew Beasley, star of TV’s latest series of Only Connect (along with Andrew Fanko, another TTT stalwart) has been on the site for more than a decade too, but has only more recently become part of the editorial team after giving up the day job to become a full-time football writer. He’s about to turn 40 (many happy returns!) and appears to be in good health. (The geek shall inherit the earth/TTT! 😉 – from one geek to another.)
The team behind TTT are brilliant, and I’d be lost without them. Ditto our key subscribers, who offer so much to the conversation, and who have been excellent with their intelligent analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Okay, so the new book was virtually finished, bar the final games of the season and any tying up of loose ends (topping and tailing with introduction and conclusion). But the Premier League has pushed the end date of the season beyond the normal June 1st cut-off point. So, I’m going to have to be creative with this, with no exact end date in sight.
Last week, before things escalated, I started taking preorders for the special edition (signed, gatefold) printed copies for subscribers only, and we’re already halfway to the target required to make the project viable. But I’m aware a lot of people may not want to commit to paying in advance. That’s perfectly understandable.
What I will now do for all people who preorder is email, in stages, PDFs of several chapters, so they can see the work unfold.
The chapters will almost certainly then be altered or in some cases, removed, before the final book is produced, depending on how much I have to add about coronavirus and the way the season does (or doesn’t) conclude; but frankly I haven’t a clue how things will pan out, other than it’s gonna be messy out there. So preorders mean you’ll get to read stuff in the coming months, before a different version of the book gets shipped whenever life returns to normal.
(Should society simply melt down and shit gets apocalyptic out there, you’ll find me swiftly digging a bunker and hunkering down with 1,000 tins of tuna in the brine, in which case, book deliveries may be delayed by a decade or two.)
This is something like the 10th book I’ve written on a Liverpool season whilst it unfolds (with some of my other books on more general LFC history, and football in general), and it’s the first to have an indefinitely delayed ending. Two of them ended with winning the Champions League; another with the FA Cup; three ended with nearly winning the league; and this one is just in limbo.
The title graphic for this piece is the top section of the planned cover, by the brilliant Daniel Marshall, although the title is under review until more is known. Liverpool do essentially have their hands around the Premier League trophy, but will the Reds get to actually lift it?
(Note: this is not assuming that the Reds have already won the title. I have never taken that for granted, although I expect the image will be taken and shared by rival fans looking to take it out of context. I can almost set my watch by it, but that’s their problem, not mine.)
Discussing the Coronavirus
We have a dedicated COVID-19 discussion page, which has been busy with a mixture of comments from those with the virus, medical doctors, PhDs, front-line medical staff, academics and data analysts.
You can see a sample of just some of the discussion in this week’s brilliant Free Friday.
I will be adding a subpage to share more lighthearted stuff (some gallows humour and some escapism), and also an Exchange and Emergency page, for people to share goods, information, and any other type of help in times of need. We will look to make sure no one is totally isolated. While the subscribers are obviously valued customers, they are also a valued part of our community, as we’ve all got to know each other over the years. Now, more than ever, we need our support networks.
I wrote about my personal experiences with illness just a couple of weeks ago, when it was clear that this was going to be a big deal, if anyone is interested in reading that.
Obviously since things have escalated rapidly, as exponential growth tends to do. I do not plan to leave the house or see family or friends for at least three months, which is ironic, as I was due to be going to the game on Sunday with friends – we planned it months ago. But shit happens.
Offer To Existing Subscribers
If you are an existing or even a past subscriber and would like to continue to subscribe but can no longer afford to do so, email us via the contact page (the Helpdesk) and Rox will set you up with free access. We don’t offer free access to anyone who hasn’t subscribed in the past because we don’t want any time-wasters and trolls on the site, as that could ruin our USP, which is an intelligent, troll-free community.
To help cover the shortfall, there are benefactor options for those who can afford to pay more and would like to do so, and obviously anyone who preorders the new book helps boost our coffers during this difficult time. There is also a donate button on the bottom right-hand side of the home page.
Or, if you’re not a subscriber, you can help support the site by buying Mentality Monsters from any of the Amazon online stores – they are on Kindle, and paperback copies are printed on demand.
Other than that, stay well, follow advice, and don’t make this worse for those of us at higher risk. The predicted demand on the UK’s Intensive Care Unit beds is 10x the capacity by June if measures do not work. The more people who get ill quickly the greater the strain on the doctors and nurses, who themselves will fall ill. Then there’ll be no one to replace them, as it’s not like we can ask other countries to send over theirs. Most deaths in badly hit areas appear to occur because of the lack ICU beds, with potentially treatable patients being left to die.
Finally, a huge thank you to all the people out there fighting this on the front line. You guys and gals are genuine heroes and heroines. Everyone, stay safe, and be sensible. And please wear a condom (over your whole body, and two over your head).