Image Credit: Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images via Sportscasting.com
By Ira Devibar
Football. It is the game we have all fallen in love with. Whether it is the FIFA World Cup or just local Sunday league, football is always something to look forward to. But when the pandemic began and events were constantly getting cancelled, it was inevitable that the Premier League would follow suit in order to combat the virus.
It was a struggle not having the weekly matches on. I even found myself starting to miss Burnley versus Fulham, a game which usually would have put me to sleep. But on June 17, the Premier League returned, kicking off with a goalless draw between Sheffield United and Aston Villa. Football was back! But as the matches went on and the new season started, I realised that football was not the same. There just was not the same buzz or atmosphere as before. All these revelations beg the question: Is football the same without fans?
Of course, it is a necessary precaution to not have fans inside the stadiums – we are still in a pandemic. But football games do feel more like a training session or a reserves game, perhaps a closed-doors pre-season friendly at best, when in reality it could be a Manchester or North-London derby. The pandemic has only gone and proved that fans inside a stadium is one of the most crucial aspects to a football match. Without their presence at games, and without the passion and the noise, it just feels less exciting. The addition of the fake crowd noise from large broadcasters like Sky and BT is better than nothing, but still not the same.
Despite this, teams have still played great football; take Manchester City for example, who are cruising towards another league title with Ilkay Gündogan emerging as an unexpected superstar. Contrast that, though, to the poor form of Liverpool at home and you can see how much the Anfield atmosphere is missed.
I decided to ask Brunel students to see what they thought.
Despite being both from Team Brunel Hockey, Harry Paines, 20, and Josh Farr, 21, had opposing opinions. ‘It is less [exciting], you can also see the players are affected by it as well like Liverpool or Tottenham, look at their form’ said Harry.
Josh, on the other hand, said: ‘It is quite interesting watching with just the stadium sounds and no fans, you can hear the players communicate.’
He added: ‘It has got to be harder though for the players, especially for home teams who rely on home advantage’.
It truly is a different game to the one we are used to. Without fans, games simply are not the same. I am sure a lot of people will enjoy getting back inside the stadium when it is allowed, but at the end of the day, we still have football and the season is incredibly exciting as it is. Teams that usually struggle have powered themselves to the top end of the table like West Ham, whereas some teams like champions Liverpool are struggling.
Hopefully fans will be allowed back in soon. For now, though, we are just going to have to continue to cheer one our favourite sides from afar.