In 1973, there was a song by Charlie Rich called “What Goes On Behind Closed Doors” and at the beginning of June, we might just find out for ourselves what it feels like to be playing to empty lifeless stadiums. It will be a very weird experience for players and supporters alike, but footballing authorities and the Government appear to be thinking along those lines.
We got a hint of it when we saw one or two of those Champions League matches acted out in this environment before the domestic season was suspended. It was not good. Not good at all. In many ways, it felt like we were watching a training session, and the only voices you could hear were from players and coaches alike and it was not pretty on the ear. I think we are in for a torrid time of it – if of course, the Coronavirus dies before we do?
Town manager Paul Lambert aired his views on the subject to Media Manager Steven Pearce on the ifollow Ipswich website, and although he was less than impressed with the idea, he accepted that if needs must then we have little choice in the matter. “In an ideal world, we will finish the season with supporters in stadiums. The timescale is the problem. We just don’t know when we will be able to start again. We may have to accept that we play behind closed doors when the season resumes. I don’t like that. Football is for the fans.”
But Lambert is a realist and he fully understands the need to end this season in whatever way we can. If there are no supporters allowed in Portman Road then fans will still be able to watch the game via a live stream, and probably with commentary from BBC Radio Suffolk. Even Brenner Woolley, who commentates for the station, will struggle to raise his octave levels given the lack of atmosphere, so everyone will find this strange scenario very challenging I would have thought.
Paul Lambert summed up the situation perfectly. ” There are a few reasons this season has to finish. For us, we have a good chance to be involved in the promotion race and for football in general, there are too many questions left to answer for the season to be null and void. I can guarantee you that it won’t feel the same if you are winning games and lifting trophies if there are no fans there. People’s lives are more important than football though, and if it means we have to go down the closed doors route, we will just have to accept it.”
What goes on behind closed doors will do nothing to enhance the beautiful game. In fact, if there are kids watching with their parents, I would suggest that parental guidance might come into play – or they might just have to turn the volume down!