Players and managers became the forgotten voices during the coronavirus pandemic.
Perhaps most of us were naive to believe the health and safety of players, officials and referees was of paramount importance. Not when there is European money to fight over.
The Covid-19 crisis has affected everyone's mental health.
Not being able to play matches or even train with team-mates since March has been soul-destroying for the players.
That release from the stresses of life, the support network of team-mates, the togetherness and comradeship of the team environment was ripped away suddenly.
Throw in the uncertainty of their contract situation, how their wages will be affected and obvious health and injury concerns, it's not a particularly tasty cocktail for players.
Sadly, a league season which was building towards a thrilling climax has come crashing down and while no-one is to blame for that, the players are still waiting to hear when they can get their careers and lives back on track and managers need to plan for next season.
Frustrations have spilled over onto social media and the tensions that have developed between clubs doesn't augur well for the game's long term health.
Without a voice expressing their concerns through a players' union, it's been left to clubs to fight the players' corner.
Where has been the engagement or consultation with the players or even the managers?
Crusaders midfielder Philip Lowry asked on Twitter earlier this summer: "What about player welfare in all of this? Most likely dozens out of contract at end of May and now without pay or a new club. IMO we need to end the current season and set a realistic provisional date for the start of next season which gives players something to aim towards."
So many players in the various leagues were left waiting on developments. Let's start by taking a look at the IFA's 'Return to Football Brochure' which stated: "Return to play will only commence once the NI Executive approve a move to step 3 of the NI Executive 5 step plan and two weeks of full team training have been completed."
Irish League teams were last in competitive action on March 7. That's 15 weeks ago and some of the players have been away from the game longer than that.
It looks like the three remaining Irish Cup matches will be played but don't expect a high level of mental and physical sharpness.
As one manager said: "What are the players? Robots, cattle or human beings? How are we going to treat them?"
One mis-timed challenge could end a player's career.
And if players do go down with contact and muscle injuries where is the sporting integrity there? Is it a product worth watching?
Larne head sports therapist Michael O'Boyle commented on Twitter: "With most clubs being semi-pro, NIFL teams generally struggle physically playing in Europe. This year they could be asked to play a qualifier after 2-3 weeks preparation (4-12 training sessions). Lack of preparation = injury risk. Player health seems to be a secondary concern."
Irish League legend Glenn Ferguson says he understands the players' frustration and believes a bit more forward planning might have averted the frustrating discussions over European money.
"It's been frustrating for the players because they wanted to get the games played and they also wanted their contracts sorted," said the Blues Academy Director. "I thought it was impossible to play games after the two weeks of team training.
"The break has been longer than any pre-season. Some teams normally come back six weeks before they kick a ball in the Irish League or four weeks before a European game. Players could get injured and their mental health will also suffer. I think that from the early lockdown period people should have got the ball moving quicker. Things were left to drift to the point where proposals were being rejected and clubs were arguing over money.
"I would have liked to see more consultation and even the managers have remained in the dark. It was obvious the virus wasn't going to go away overnight so I think we could have responded in a lot more constructive and effective manner.
"It was case of here's the decision on Tuesday, make your decision in 48 hours and it's not right in anyone's book. The clubs were left trying to pick up the pieces and sort it out."
Ferguson works with young players who have fallen behind in their academic as well as football life.
"Our boys have been chomping at the bit but when you're doing things on your own it's a bit soul-destroying," added the Linfield legend. "It's held back not only their football but their whole lives.
"They have missed a large portion of school and are a few months behind.
"All the life skills they would have picked up in the last few months have been lost. It's been mentally challenging for them and I hope they can have a sense of normality back in their lives."
We shouldn't be surprised at the lack of consultation. When are the opinions of players or managers sought in the relevant issues like summer football, an all-Island league or scheduling of fixtures?
Everywhere you turned in this process there was a conflict of interest.
There's nothing wrong with clubs fighting their own corner but there was a broader agenda which needed to be grasped.
Players and managers were left following events on social media and Newry City boss Darren Mullen was unimpressed.
"Managers and players from all leagues were in the same boat in terms of waiting to get back playing football and needing a pathway to do that," he said.
"In hindsight there hasn't been enough consultation. Players should have had a voice. There's talk of a players' union being formed and they need to have a forum allowing them to give an opinion. Issues that should be sorted out behind closed doors were being played out on Twitter and it's not ideal for anyone.
"Players were asking me what's happening. We needed to see strong leadership and decisions to be taken."
Experienced Coleraine defender Steven Douglas admits the uncertainty added to the frustration.
"There wasn't an answer that was going to please everyone and you can't blame clubs for trying to get some money," he said.
"The players have been kept in the dark and is there ever a time when something is sorted out properly?
"There always seems to be a dilemma that arises and something as important as this needed to be handled better.
"These Irish Cup games are massive and you can't expect players to be performing at their maximum when they have been lying at home since March.
"Unless you are playing games, you can't be match fit."
The Irish FA has offered to cover the cost of one round of Covid-19 testing but after a player is tested he will go about his normal business and how can we be sure he hasn't picked up the virus between the time of the test and the game?
Infection rates are falling but Irish League football should remain cautious.
There is a risk with team sports and the large gatherings that accompany them.
There's been a lot of talk about fixtures and money but our number one priority is saving human life so what is the response plan?
What happens if a player tests positive and how will that disrupt the game?
The virus is still in the community and while a second wave may not happen we have all earned the right to be wary.
Maybe when the next pandemic arrives, the players and managers will not be kept in the dark and will be shown the respect they deserve.