The experience of the football fan has changed immeasurably as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With fans not allowed into stadiums, watching a game has this inescapable surrealist quality to it.
Whether you listen to bizarre artificial crowd noise, or the eerie silence of what feels like a training game, it is hard to say that football is the same sport we know. It looks like it, but it’s not it.
Football is an intricate sport, where everything is analyzed and staticized to the Nth degree. However, it is also a game of intangibles and because of Covid-19, we are seeing just how tangible match-going fans are.
Home advantage seems to have been eradicated. This season, 44% of Premier League games have been won by away teams. 37% have been won by home teams, compared to last season when they won 48% of games.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says that the absence of fans has negatively impacted his project with the team.
“It is definitely affecting the players,” Arteta told Arsenal.com.
“Now, for example with the lockdown: you win at Old Trafford, you feel excited, your adrenaline is really high, you go home and you want to celebrate, you want to do something, but you just go home, by yourself – some of the players live by themselves – and you go home, sit on the sofa, and that’s it.
“To find that purpose and say, ‘Okay, I work so hard for this moment, I want to enjoy it, I want to have people around me’ but you have nothing, so it is a completely different life.
“In our case, when you try to build a new project you need to engage the fans with the team. They have to see live what the team is transmitting. It is completely different on the TV, you are not able to do that.”