'This Could Be the End for a Few Clubs': Sports Fans on Coronavirus
‘Will our league survive?’
I’m a member of a League of Ireland football club. We are one of the better known clubs in the country and have a fair few season tickets. That is not the case for other clubs. Some are trying to stay afloat, especially in the country’s second tier. Matchdays are obviously big earners, whether that be tickets, food or drink. Some clubs can only budget day-to-day, with these influxes every fortnight keeping their heads above water. What happens when clubs have to go without this for a month – or even a whole season? How can they afford to play players without taking money in the gate?
What has happened in the FAI, our national football association, has been well documented. The situation before the outbreak of Covid-19 was one of uncertainty. With everything already up in the air, can our league – especially smaller clubs, who are already teetering on the brink – survive a season with no fans, no football, and no funding?
‘I’m disappointed with how Chelsea dealt with this’
I booked to go to Munich for Chelsea’s game in the Champions League this week. The weekend away was meant to be my first break from work this year. I’m disappointed with how Chelsea have dealt with this. We saw Manchester United refund their travelling fans £350 for their Europa League match, a drop in the ocean for them and a great PR move.
Chelsea, predictably, offered nothing of the sort. They immediately took the five loyalty points away and will refund the £53 ticket (let’s see if the booking fee is included) in 10 days. Ten days! United said they would do it in three. I was planning to go home to see my mum in Leicester for Mother’s Day and take her to Chelsea’s game there in the FA Cup. Now I’ll be stuck with family and no football. The horror! Mark
‘My once in a lifetime summer of sport now looks bleak’
I have season tickets for Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the J League (where the season was postponed after one game) and Hiroshima Toyo Carp in the Japanese Professional Baseball League (where the season has been delayed); I have bought tickets and booked flights for both Euro 2020 semi-finals (it looks like I will be having a football-free trip); and I have tickets to the Olympics in Tokyo (who knows). What was shaping to be a once in a lifetime summer of sport now looks bleak. Robert
‘This could be the end for at least a few clubs’
While I feel for the fans of the bigger clubs – in particular those Liverpool fans who may see their long-awaited league title delayed or won with no fans in attendance – I fear even more for smaller clubs across the country, for whom a sudden break in income could potentially be catastrophic. Matches can be delayed and leagues can be won later, but there will likely be no coming back for those unlucky clubs who find themselves simply unable to continue. I hope mine is not one of those, but I would be amazed if there are not at least a few clubs for whom this could be the end. Michael
‘We were having an incredible season’
I’m living in northern Italy at the moment in the town of Riva del Garda. I play for the local rugby team, Rugby Benacense, and we were having an incredible season. So far, we are unbeaten and have two more games left of the regular season before the playoffs. Unfortunately, the league has been suspended indefinitely and no training has taken place since 25 February. It’s a shame that the season has just came to a halt, but I support the measures to try to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. Harjan
‘I have to accept it is a part of life’
I started training for the Manchester marathon at the beginning of December and it has now been cancelled. After training for the last 15 weeks, with just three weeks left to go, I’m now thinking about what can I do instead. Do I run my own marathon at my goal pace so not to waste my training? How do I go about keeping my fitness up without needing to repeat the 18-week training plan for when it is rescheduled? Will I be able to attend the new date? Then there is the potential for monetary loss from travel tickets, accommodation and entry fee. There is nothing I can do and I have to accept it is a part of life that unfortunate events disrupt even the best laid plans, but you cannot help but feel frustrated.
‘We are in national lockdown’
I coach rugby in Italy and work with grassroots clubs, helping them develop their business, especially with regards to sponsors and community connections. Rugby has come to a stop here, with all activities suspended and clubs closed. Clubs are now in lockdown, which is having an enormous impact on their finances. We’re waiting to hear the future for this year’s Top 12 championship – will it be be cancelled, postponed or will there be some other creative solution?
On a bright side, lots of coaches are being very creative and giving kids rugby homework such as stories to write, pictures to draw, problems to solve, quizzes and opportunities to explore rugby’s core values. Anything to keep them busy and thinking about rugby. We’re in national lockdown and housebound except in order to shop for food and medicine. Very strange times!
‘I’m worried we won’t be able to see the game or even visit Liverpool’
I’m a lifelong Liverpool fan. I’ve been waiting for a season like this all my life. I’ve never had the chance to see them play at Anfield. At the start of the season, me and a bunch of friends got tickets for Liverpool’s last game at Anfield against Chelsea. We have booked a hotel and flights. Right now I’m very worried that it will all be for nothing and we won’t be able to see the game or even visit Liverpool. I think I might have some dust in my eyes.
‘It would be my first time in Italy’
Just a couple days before the outbreak arrived in Europe, I made plans with a friend to go to Italy on a football-themed weekend. It would be my first time in the country and I was going to attend two matches in a day: Atalanta v Lazio and Inter v Brescia. I could not have chosen a worst region. Leonardo
‘Suddenly it dawns on you’
I am the chairman of a small rugby club in London. At first you go about your business thinking this does not require any response from you or the club and suddenly it dawns on you. Simple things like, how do we ensure we have enough soap and hand sanitiser when all the shops seem empty of them? Our small budget cannot stand too many deep cleans.
We are in our regional vase final in the middle of April. There will be three matches so approaching 200 players and officials sharing changing rooms, plus potentially hundreds of supporters in the bar. Will that go ahead? What about our end-of-season tour? We are not a wealthy club. We cannot afford to hire a coach and then have that postponed.
How do we monitor our own players – let alone the opposition? How do we know if someone has been in contact with someone who has been affected by the virus? Our players are young, fit and healthy (though looking at some of our front rows you might wonder) but quite a few work at the nearby airport where there is a higher risk of contact.
Suddenly, retiring and giving your time to help out at a community club becomes a little more serious than just doing a shift behind the bar. It becomes about doing your best, with little professional advice, to protect the bunch of people who rely on their club as part of what they do.
‘It could be a long time before I am back in a stadium’
I have a season ticket at Arsenal and was told on 3 March that I should not go to crowded places until the number of cases in England starts to fall. I’m 34 and I have cystic fibrosis. Catching coronavirus at a match (or anywhere) would be an absolute disaster for me because my lungs are already compromised due to low lung function.
I have no choice but to following the medical advice. The bigger picture isn’t great either. With no coronavirus vaccine on the horizon for another 12 months or more, I’m starting to accept that it could be a really long time before I am back in a stadium again. The risks will remain high until there’s a vaccine.
I live in Michigan and follow European football very closely. Seeing all these leagues being postponed and held behind closed doors is insane. I don’t think anyone has ever really lived through something like this, so the precaution is necessary. As much as I love this sport, unfortunately this is the right call. The coronavirus has shown us all that health is bigger than any sporting event and that taking precautions early can help stop the virus from spreading rapidly.
I will miss spending my weekend mornings watching football. All anyone can hope for is the wellbeing of the people affected, that authorities control the spread and find a possible vaccine. Until then football will be missed by millions. Hopefully leagues will be able to finish their seasons in the near future. Diana
‘I have been planning a month-long trip to Italy’
I have been planning a month-long trip to Italy during April and May to watch Inter, Bologna, Fiorentina and Napoli play. Given everything that is happening, I suspect my trip might be a non-starter. I have tickets a train to Turin and three games, but have no idea if I’ll be able to get my money back. Ben
‘Having the chance to see us away in Europe again was exciting’
I had planned to go and see Rangers in Germany against Leverkusen. I have had an extremely tough year as I had a liver transplant last August. For the majority of this season I have followed Rangers from the couch as I have been recovering, but having the chance to see us away in Europe again was exciting! I am devastated. I will just have to hope Rangers can get into the next round.
‘My dad decided to go abroad for the first time in his life’
I’m from Poland and have been planning a trip to London with my son and my dad, who made the decision to go abroad for the first time in his entire life. As he’s football fan I decided to take him to the Millwall v Swansea game to experience some old school British football atmosphere. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak we have been forced to cancel the whole trip. We’ve lost money on plane tickets and accommodation, so I hope to get refund on game tickets at least. Konrad
‘My fantasy Six Nations league has been completely upended’
It’s not as high stakes as a lot of other sports fans I’m sure, but my fantasy Six Nations league has been completely upended as a result of coronavirus. We had organised a fairly big prize at the end and now none of us can decide how we can resolve it.