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Maidenhead United's James Comley taking the unsettling economic impact of coronavirus in his stride

James Comley normally looks so assured on the ball for Maidenhead United and Montserrat, but, at the moment the central midfielder can be sure about very little with the coronavirus having an unsettling impact on both his economic and social life.

His life as a footballer, fitness instructor and personal trainer has been turned upside down by the arrival of COVID-19, and, while he may well receive funding support from government, the next few months are going to be ‘interesting and complicated’ on pretty much all fronts.

His after-school coaching classes have been cancelled, his Easter holiday coaching clubs have been cancelled and his one-to-one personal instructor sessions are also off due to the government’s strict new rules on social distancing.

His weekly football fix with Maidenhead United has been postponed indefinitely with the playing staff having been put on furlough last week. While earlier this month he was due to be on the plane to Guatemala for two qualifying matches that both had to be postponed. Had they won the Emerald Boys would have gone on to meet Cuba in June, however, that match also looks to be very much at risk.

In short, it’s a disconcerting time for the player, but he’s taking it all in his stride.

“I am a little bit concerned,” he said. “But I always try to go with the mindset that there’s no point in getting too worried, especially when everyone is in the same boat.

“I’ve got nothing on at the moment. All of the stuff that I do is considered close contact with people and at this point it’s not looking like there’s going to be a quick fix. I’ll have to wait and see how long this goes on for. With regards to Maidenhead hopefully our pay is ok for the time being.”

It’s likely that Comley will use the government’s funding help to try and recoup some of the losses incurred by James Comley Sports and Fitness over this period, but working that out won’t prove easy.

“The things I do are not contracted work,” he said. “They Easter holiday camps depend on how many parents send their kinds each day, so that’s a complete numbers game. Hopefully I’ll be able to claim back for the afterschool clubs I do. Depending on how the football goes and Maidenhead United’s finances, hopefully I’ll be alright, but it’s going to be an interesting time.

“The country needs to be sensible first. But where there’s a will there’s a way. I’ve seen coaches doing online stuff via Skype, but that’s with parents helping their children and the kids require space at home to do that which isn’t always the case.”

The National League have suspended the season indefinitely. But no definite decision has yet been taken on how to resolve the relegation and promotion places. Comley feels it would be harsh on Maidenhead to relegate them with eight matches remaining, however, he knows whatever solution they come up with won’t be favourable to all.

“It’s really tight in our league, from our position up to 14th – any of those sides could still have gone down,” he added. “To relegate maybe two or three sides that could have got out of it seems unfair to me. The only team who were really nowhere near are Chorley, but to relegate the others, when there are just three or four points in it, is just harsh.

“There’s so many different viewpoints pushing and pulling in different directions. Nothing really works out well for everyone. The leagues will want to get their seasons finished at some point, but international games will also have to be played. Everyone is trying to do their best but something will have to give at some point.

“We were due to fly into Guatemala two days before the games this month, and some of the boys had seen that people flying in would have had to have spent seven days in quarantine. The winner of the two ties is due to play Cuba. That is due to take place in June, but what if the leagues do start up again in June. What happens then? It’s just so difficult.”

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