Sunderland’s 1-0 victory against Peterborough United on Saturday afternoon was, at one stage, hoped to be the last behind closed doors.
Home comforts were all set to return for the Black Cats’ match against Blackpool on October 10th, albeit with only around 11,000 to 12,000 Sunderland supporters socially distancing themselves inside of the Stadium of Light.
Even before that, Saturday’s away trip to Charlton would have had the atmosphere bouncing for a clash that would have had rivalries renewed and tensions rising. No doubt this would have spurred on both sides for an unstoppable game of football at The Valley.
With new owner, Thomas Sandgaard, being the new hands at the helm for the Addicks, the electric atmosphere from the Charlton fans may have spurred them onto a victory; an almost parallel to when Stewart Donald first attended a game at the Stadium of Light in the final game of the Championship season.
Charlton fans had already been allowed into The Valley for their 3-1 defeat against Doncaster Rovers a couple of weeks ago, and all of the EFL clubs had put time and money into rearranging their respective stadiums to ensure health precautions were followed.
Looking at Sunderland, specifically, the club had already begun arranging bubbles for supporters, and fans had chosen between a pro-rata refund or a streaming pass, on the basis that they would be allowed back into the Stadium of Light in October.
This wasn’t just the Black Cats who had begun planning how supporters returning to football would look like, although clubs had different approaches, all of them would have had the same attitude towards the news last week that those plans were to be postponed.
The financial impact of the COVID-19 health pandemic has been critical for every club - no matter how big of a team you are, somehow your team will have been effected. From Chelsea to Cheltenham and Liverpool to Leyton Orient, the devastating footprint that this current time has left on football clubs will last forever.
Over the course of the last six months ever since the UK lockdown was announced, it was clear through all forms of media of the damming effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to the economy, but the sports industry is one of the biggest affected.
The impact for some clubs won’t just be because of the lack of fans; the lack of commercial income, such as hospitality and advertising, will be absolutely devastating for some lower-leagues clubs, with the Premier League and the EFL thinking about a £250 million bail-out package.
People have had different opinions on who should provide the extra funding, but everyone is clear that a bailout is required, in order to help the struggling clubs at the lower end of the football pyramid.
Every club and supporter is aware of the dangers that COVID-19 has brought over the past six months, but for some lower league clubs, the postponement of fans back at football could be fatal.
Fleetwood manager, Joey Barton, labelled the block on fans as an “impending Armageddon”, whilst even lower down the football pyramid, the impacts will be lethal.
For some clubs, the block on fans returning to stadiums will be the final nail in the coffin. The effects will still be here tomorrow and next week and next month and years to come, so it is crucial that funding is required and soon to stop more clubs from going into a catastrophic situation.