The ongoing COVID Pandemic has altered the lives of millions and not even football has been spared.
The sport of football that was abruptly brought to a halt due to the coronavirus is back on its feet for now but without its fans. A prospect quite unthinkable not long ago is now the new normal.
The belief is that fans would be able to return to the stadiums in the near future but it would never be the same as the protocols are certain to affect fans as it has affected the players, coaching staff and federations.
Fist bumps have replaced handshakes, a packed bench has made way for substitutes sitting a few metres apart in a dispersed bunch and managers are now allowed five substitutions instead of the usual three. With Europe’s top leagues now into their fourth week since resumption, these changes have slowly become part of the fabric.
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The absence of fans in the stadiums though has been the biggest change of all. With the supporters being the driving force behind a team’s success, here’s a look at some early numbers that reveal how playing behind closed doors has affected results in Europe’s top four football leagues, namely, Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga.
The yellow wall of Dortmund, The ultras of PSG, The white army, all these fans are being missed right now even by the mighty clubs and players.
Some clubs in lower levels are also suffering from financial difficulties as a large part of their revenue comes from matchday ticket sales and Jersey sales, both of which are now at a halt due to the COVID issue.
Players have also admitted that playing in the empty stadium has also affected them a bit.
UEFA has also given some relaxation on the financial fair play policy for the season to help the club get through difficult situations.
Even the balance sheet of the club as big as FC Barcelona have shown weakness due to this COVID crisis.
Many players have taken a pay cut from their respective club for the season. Players of Juventus, Manchester United and many other clubs have taken a pay cut.
All we can do is pray and hope that the fans can return as soon as possible to the stadium and can enjoy this beautiful game with the same enthusiasm. Because without the fans the game of football is like life without oxygen.