How COVID-19 Will Impact Home Field Advantage for Football

Posted By Uttiyo Sarkar on May 10, 2020

If not already clear to anyone yet, the post-COVID-19 era will completely change soccer as we know it. For one, we aren’t going to see stadiums packed to the brim with fans any time soon. There is no time-frame when “normality” can resume again, but it’s sure not going to happen once this season properly restarts.

With the Bundesliga set to begin soon, we’ll get to see the first glimpse of the post-COVID-19 soccer. However, it’ll not just be different for fans at home but the players themselves as well. Perhaps those impacted the most will be the teams hosting games at their home stadiums.

The whole point of ‘home advantage’ is to allow thousands of spectators to intimidate the opposition. Be it with constant chanting, mocking or songs, fans have the ability to get under the skin of the biggest stars in the planet.

Alas, we won’t be able to hear the You Never Walk Alone song bellowing around Anfield or the roar of Old Trafford or the loudness of the Etihad (jk lol Man City don’t have real fans). Here are some ways “home advantage” can become a thing of the past very soon.

1. No Fans=Low energy levels

There is no doubt whatsoever that most of the players across the top-five leagues in Europe are all extremely talented, inspired individuals. But even they’ll admit that reason for their motivation is to perform for the fans. If there are no fans to share their joy with those in the stands, where’s the point?

Of course, that will now have to change because of the circumstances, but the lack of supporters will definitely impact the quality of games. We might see some lacklustre, cagey games because teams won’t be able to fuel their energy with fans spurring them on.

The Bundesliga – for example – had an average attendance of 43,000 in the 2019/20 campaign before it was suspended. The reason for their high-octane, entertaining games were loud supporters! Not just will it be weird for us to watch closed-doors empty stadium games, but it’ll be that much difficult for players to produce the highest quality without their ‘12th man’.

2. What Atmosphere?

Remember big derbies when the fans created magic by bringing out flags, Tifos & singing their heart out to make it seem like we’re living a dream? Well, we won’t be able to get that feeling anytime soon.

That thrill of the loud celebrations, players celebrating like wild men in front of supporters, constant innovative songs ringing around grounds will disappear. Of course, some teams are aiming at improving the match-viewing experience by blaring songs through their sound systems, but that will only add to how fake games seem.

Of course, something can be better than nothing, but the players won’t have that added fire in their bellies anymore. Not just during games, but celebrating winning the league or major trophies all go down the window this season. The only trophy-lifting ceremonies will strictly be pointed to the cameras for fans to watch from the comfort of their living rooms.

3. The away team’s dream?

Now the whole point of teams dreading away games in the pre-Covid era is because of the nightmares that awaited. While some teams shaped their home grounds well according to their styles, but realistically, it’s the wrath of home fans which intensifies away games.

The possibility of fans mocking away-team players on any given opportunity, belittling their ability and pouring constant mental pressure causing mistakes are reasons why away trips are so difficult. There’s a reason Liverpool are unbeatable at Anfield or Bayern Munich so dominant at the Allianz Arena.

Now that inbuilt fear of being lambasted by fans will disappear and away teams won’t have to deal with a constant state of tension anymore. On the other hand, home teams will be less motivated to perform to their best in a silent environment. This is perhaps why neutral grounds are being pushed so hard in the Premier League. In the post-Covid era, every match is fair game. Perhaps the lack of atmosphere gives the away teams an added advantage in the near future.

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Uttiyo Sarkar

An unbiased Manchester United die-hard. Lover of the beautiful game. Addicted to the Premier League and beyond. Hopeful writer in the search for the greater good.

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