So topflight football in the UK is back and Premier League (PL) clubs have re-started the season all be it without any fans.
They are now able to play pre-recorded terrace chants when the home team scores though!
In the first 15 games to be played post lockdown most were 0-0 at half time as it seems the no crowd thing is affecting players a little bit.
The Broadcast Enhancement Advisory Group, which is trying to make the experience better for fans watching on TV and some of the rules around subs have changed also.
PL teams are now able to use five substitutes, instead of the normal three and the size of the bench is up to nine from seven to give the manager a bit more choice.
The increased number of substitutions is only a short-term measure to cover the fact that teams will play nine games inside six weeks.
Which teams will suffer most?
Some teams may miss the support of their home fans more than others. How much advantage does the crowd give you? It’s a fact some refs are swayed by HUGE roars from the Anfield Kop or the Streford End and of course it’s a big boost for the home players when they are being urged forward to get an equaliser.
Home advantage is more than just the fans though, players get to play in their familiar surroundings and don’t have to travel long distances or stay overnight.
Relegation certainties Norwich incidentally have collected almost 75% of their points in the PL from home games so the no fans will make things even worse for them I feel.
There are some teams though like Wolves, and Southampton who actually do better on the road. So they might do better at home with no crowd!
Man City and Villa have 6 of their remaining 9 games at home so arguably they will lose what would have been a big advantage in those games.
Preseason all over again
After not playing for 100 days the players will probably never have had (injury apart) this length of time in-between games before.
Managers have had time to get most if not all their players fully fit and will have full squads to choose from.
The passion and fighting spirit may not be the same without fans to urge them forward but for those in the battle for Champions League or relegation they will have to motivate themselves.
On the positive side if a player has a nightmare game and gets subbed off, he won’t have the boos of the fans in his ears.