Premier League football may be returning next week, but it may be a long time before we see loyal fans filling up stadiums up and down the country each and every Saturday afternoon.
The beautiful game may seem insignificant to many in the midst of a global pandemic, but the numbers tell us just how significant fans are to football.
As the figures tell us from 2018/19, the average attendance at a Premier League match was 38,168, with a total of 14.5m attendees earning the division a whopping £677m across all matchdays.
While games will continue behind-closed-doors over the next two months, all of the above tells us that, without fans, the Premier League couldn’t survive – and that’s only looking at it from a financial perspective.
Playing without the emotion, passion and overall atmosphere fans bring will be something we’ll have to get used to over the final 9 games of the season, starting with Sheffield United’s trip up to the North East a week on Sunday.
The noise inside our cathedral on the hill has rarely reached its peak this season, with a few too many flat and defensive performances leaving many Mags uninspired from the stands, however we can never underestimate the importance of a raucous St James’ Park.
Remember Matty’s winner against Man Utd? Miggy’s first goal at the Gallowgate End or the Geordie roar when Andy Carroll returned for his first game back? They’re not only moments that make us fall back in love with our club, but do our ears some damage too!
Some fear the atmosphere on Tyneside has been on the decline for several years now, with Mike Ashley’s miserable reign and the lack of ambition that’s followed allowing apathy to take over, however our role as the 12th man can often be the difference.
Sadly, we’ll have no impact over the coming weeks and months, being forced to watch all Premier League games from our sofas, not the stands.
It will be a strange change for the players too, mind. Club captain Jamaal Lascelles and wing wizard Allan Saint-Maximin have already spoken about how surreal life will be without fans inside the stadium, but it’ll also be a big shock to the Premier League’s purse strings.
As highlighted below, matchday revenue earned the league £677m last season, with Newcastle United taking in £24m of that:
With the above in mind, the £677m total works out at 13% of the overall turnover for all 20 clubs, meaning around £1 in every 7 is made via supporters.
It may not seem a huge percentage on the whole, but with ticket money contributing significantly to the annual turnover of many clubs (it’s 30% of Sheffield United’s income!) it can’t be underestimated.
Money aside, it will be interesting to see how a complete change in atmosphere, the absence of a roar when a goal goes in or distinct home advantage affects all 20 clubs over the final two months of 2019/20.
Could we see players who struggle under scrutiny come out of their shells or, on the flip side, showmen with real flare fade away without an audience to entertain?
Time will tell, but one thing’s for certain – football will not be the same without thousands of loyal fans in attendance each week.