NO escaping the fact now, football in England is entering its most devastating period in 75 years.

The news that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (which came in a phone call to me from the Arsenal CEO late Thursday) and Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for coronavirus brought forward the inevitable day the Premier League would have to be suspended, pending possible cancellation.

And that is the optimistic way of looking at it.

If the Prime Minister’s ‘sombrero’ graph is anywhere near an accurate forecast then suspension might need to be extended until June-July. Or, worst scenario, that the start of next season will be delayed.

I have no doubts the Premier League will survive. The task for all football is to limit the damage.

The mortals in the Health Ministry were reminded this week that they do not have god-like gifts to shape the spread of the disease.

Their wishful plan to hold off on cancelling big sporting events for a while was destroyed by one verdict — that Arteta had caught the virus.

The house of hope collapsed because once the contagion was in the brickwork, dry rot took over.

Arsenal’s matches had to be called off and all of Arteta’s dozens of contacts had to be placed in isolation.