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It’s all gone quiet over there!

05 June 2020

By Adam Bull, Consultant

On 17th June Premier League football will return! Top-flight football in England hasn’t been played since 9th March and oh how it has been missed. 

The goals! The fouls! The red cards! Gary Lineker! The pints! The controversy! The VAR (maybe not so much). The noise! The joy and the despair! Finally, this will be back into our lives and a “sense of normality” back again! 

But is it?

Live sport without fans isn’t normal. No pre-match handshakes, no overly exuberant team celebrations, no pubs to watch the games in (will I have to pour beer on my own shirt in my living room instead? That’s certainly not normal).

It is a conflicting time to be a football fan. We are getting the sport we love back. But it’s going to be low sugar, low fat, low carb, vanilla flavoured football without so much of what makes it the global entertainment Goliath it is.

I should probably caveat at this point; I am a Bolton Wanderers fan. Bolton are currently 21 points from safety in League One and just waiting to be handed their ticket to League Two (and it very much looks like a one-way ticket at this stage). When football returns, it will be nothing but misery and despair for me. Yay.

On the flip side, if you’re a Liverpool fan, we can all assume it’ll be the end of 30 years of waiting for the Premier League trophy. Which will be won in an empty stadium, potentially to the sound of artificial fan noise from the videogame FIFA, with the record breaking squad celebrating at a respectable 2m distance from each other. It is what Liverpool fans have been dreaming of!

Football is also different now with the rise of Twitter. I don’t have to be in a stadium or pub to hear people’s live reactions and opinions on what is unfolding in front of them. Perhaps social media will be the saving grace to keep the football spirit of arguing with strangers alive and well.

Personally, I am not sure I really even miss football. I think I miss the thrill of competition and the drama. I realised this as I watched Normal People and found myself cheering on Connell and Marianne’s relationship. Me on my sofa, fist pumping when they are together, and head in hands when they aren’t. I celebrated Marianne dumping her awful ex-boyfriend like I’d celebrate a rival team losing 5-0, chanting in my living room “GOOD ENOUGH FOR MARIANNE, YOU’LL NEVER SING THAT!”

That last part is a small exaggeration, but the point still stands.

Don’t get me wrong, I am delighted that football is coming back to our screens. But will it still have the same appeal without the fans, the human interest that drives the game? I am not so sure. 

Perhaps my scepticism will vanish the instant Martin Tyler mutters those immortal words:

“And it’s live!”