Eduardo César Daud Gaspar, known as Edu, technical director at Arsenal
TERESOPOLIS, BRAZIL - MAY 21: The General Coordinator of the Brazilian national football team, Edu Gaspar, attends a press conference at Granja Comary Training Center for the first phase of preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia on May 21, 2018 in Teresopolis, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

As COVID 19 has stopped all aspects of football and sporting events, there have been new heroes who have risen up under challenging circumstances. Lifelong PNE fan Kenny Marland and his partner Joanne Dalton created ‘Boot the Virus’ initiative to raise funds for the incredible NHS by uniting the entire footballing community.

The initiative to raise money is really simple. They are asking professional footballers to donate a pair of signed matchday boots which will then be auctioned online with all of the funds raised going directly to the NHS. Talking about how the idea to create this Boot The Virus campaign came to him, Marland who is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment in his fourth battle against cancer had this to say, “I have a personal affinity with the NHS heroes due to my vulnerable situation, I am frustrated at having to stay at home when I would rather be volunteering to help the wonderful people at the NHS.

“I was pondering how I could combine my passion for football and help out, then the idea of Boot The Virus came to me in a chat with Joanne. I then put the idea into the notes section on my phone and sent a copy to Tom Clarke (captain of PNE) to see his thoughts. Tom said it was a good idea and that he would back the campaign. That then gave us the confidence and belief to give it a go! So, we are asking professional footballers from all the leagues in England to donate a pair of their signed matchday boots.”

The auction ends two weeks from now, and you can make a bid for the signed boots of the player of your choice here.

So far, this initiative has been successful, but not as much as it should have been.

PNE were the first club to get into this initiative as the entire squad has signed up. Apart from PNE, just Leeds United, Cardiff City and Bournemouth were the only teams that had the whole squad signed up. A total of 380 players have signed up so far till date, including four from Women’s Super League. According to the information that was given to us, Man City, West Ham and Wolves are the only Premier League teams who have taken the ‘Boot the Virus’ challenge seriously as 5, 9 and 6 players have signed up respectively.

6 Premier League clubs have ignored this initiative entirely

The sad reality is that some Premier League clubs have entirely failed this test. While there are other things in everyone’s plate, this is a wonderful initiative that should have been given more consideration. Unfortunately, clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Everton, Newcastle United and Norwich City does not even have one player in this initiative.

Sadder still is the fact that this has gained next to no traction in Scotland. Jonny Hayes is the only player to have signed up, but we need more players. Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen, Hearts and other clubs need to have a look at this initiative as well.

Finally some good news

Boot The Virus leaderboard
Boot The Virus leaderboard (image credit: bootthevirus.com)

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Boot The Virus has raised £38,761 until 2.30 pm today. All of this money would go to the NHS, which would be an incredible help.

It seems Leeds United are leading the leaderboard with £6885 raised and they are far ahead of second-placed Bournemouth at £3191.52 raised.

We are hoping that some other clubs (cough cough Arsenal, Chelsea) come through as this is something we should all be in together. Also, let us wish Kenny Marland and his partner Joanne Dalton all the best going forward.