OPINION: WIll floating fans return to stadiums once football returns to normal?

Most football fans have now gone an entire year without seeing their team play inside a stadium.

Monday, 8th February 2021, 11:02 am
Updated Monday, 8th February 2021, 11:29 am
An empty stadium has become common sight. But how many fans will come back when the turnstyles re-open? (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Watching matches via iFollow has now become the norm for supporters of EFL clubs, with the common viewpoint being that the fans cannot wait to take to the terraces once again.

But, personally, I cannot help but wonder how true this statement actually is.

I only have to look at my personal twitter feed to view regular updates from fans along the lines of ‘it’s a bugger when you didn’t realise your team is playing, it’s an even bigger bugger when you don’t care that you forgot.’

Perhaps these are just the isolated and frustrated postings of fans disillusioned by a club not doing well and losing touch with the community (Huddersfield Town in case you wonder).

But it certainly raises the larger point of how many fans will actually come back once they can and just how much lockdown has broken bonds with fanbases?

Football is very much a religion, a passion, a habit - for many people it’s much more than just a hobby or something to do.

Habit is the key for me and, for many clubs, there must be the danger that habits have been broken and the connectivity with the club has been broken by fans being forced to view remotely and not being able to enjoy a normal matchday experience.

Lockdown life has brought many families closer together and helped people rediscover the real love of the great outdoors or just spending quality time together.

The die hard fans will always go to games no matter what - but just how many floating fans, which lower league clubs seriously rely on, will follow suit?

When life goes back to normal will many fans simply prefer to continue watching games via iFollow. When time is tight after getting back from work, or the weather is a bit nippy - tv football is certainly a cheaper and easier option.

Will floating fans prefer to spend a Saturday afternoon walking around a country park with their loved ones or will the lure of football prove too strong?

Only time will reveal the answers to these questions, but football clubs certainly have work ahead to keep fan bases up.

They simply cannot just take it for granted that everyone will come back once the turnstyles reopen again.

Football must compete harder than ever now against other attractions and lifestyle options.