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Opinion

Changed my mind and need to get Newcastle United matches back playing – Behind closed doors

4 months ago
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I know it has been only one weekend but my view on Newcastle United matches and dealing with the Coronavirus has changed.

When it was first discussed about the possibility of continuing to play Premier League matches (and FA Cup ones) but behind closed doors, I was very firmly of the opinion that playing games without fans inside the stadiums was pointless.

However, with the scale of the problem quickly sinking in over the course of this first football-free weekend, I have done a 180 degree turn.

In normal circumstances I would say 100% that playing Newcastle United matches without a crowd in attendance would be pointless BUT these are not normal times.

I know it may well take some time before you could have matches even behind closed doors BUT one thing is for sure, that would be possible far quicker than if you wait until 52,000 are allowed back into St James Park.

I think it is a needs must situation and by having games played behind closed doors it would tick some important boxes where football is concerned:

The Premier League could be brought to a conclusion and avoid all kinds of potential problems going forward. There would be winners and losers as is usually the case and with everybody playing behind closed doors, no advantage for anybody.

This should also largely satisfy broadcasters and sponsors that they have got what they paid for, especially if they end up with far bigger TV audiences and potentially every Premier League match shown live, for people to watch from home.

The FA Cup could also be carried through to a conclusion, which is obviously at the forefront of our minds (in terms of football) as Newcastle fans. As a suggestion, play the quarters and semis behind closed doors if that is what is needed but then keep the actual final to be played the week before next season kicks off, whenever that may be, have the FA Cup final when the community shield is usually played. By keeping the FA Cup final back until then, it would then allow fans to attend and it would still be the 2020 FA Cup final.

With it looking inevitable that the general population’s lifestyles are going to be seriously restricted for an unknown length of time, having Premier League matches to watch on TV would be a massively helpful distraction. Help to alleviate the boredom and give us the opportunity to have our usual pre and post-match debates.

In terms of a financial hit on clubs of having to refund fans, it is only a maximum of five home Premier League matches (as well as FA Cup ones) and with ticket money making up a far smaller proportion of revenues, top tier clubs could easily absorb that relatively small loss of income.

None of this is ideal of course and yes, I would far rather be inside St James Park watching Newcastle United, but that isn’t going to be one of the options.

We all just need to get through this Coronavirus crisis and one very small part of that is the Premier League getting through what they need to do and provide a distraction for all football fans.

Before then at some time in the future we can all get back to some kind of normal.

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