The English Premier League and 72-team football league closed on Saturday due to concerns over coronavirus, but clubs at fifth and lower levels challenged defiantly – to the delight of football fans across the country. country.
But while supporters took advantage of what could have been the last games for several weeks, club officials were faced with the financial damage that could ensue if they were also forced to stop playing.
A crowd of 2,154 people traveled to West Yorkshire to see Halifax Town lose 1-0 at home to Ebbsfleet United and, although the attendance was not much larger than expected, there were several supporters of the Premier and Football League clubs who had traveled to have them repaired.
An Ebbsfleet fan, who had made the four-hour trip from Kent, watched the first half of the match in a gas mask but removed it at intervals to eat a pie.
Several clubs, such as Halifax, have offered fans of other clubs a 10-pound ($ 12.27) discount ticket, and Manchester City seasonal season ticket holder David Miller has taken full advantage of the offer, by attending two games in one day.
“I was at Bradford Park Avenue earlier to kick off at 3:00 pm in the National Northern League, and then I came to this one,” he said.
“I’m not worried about coming to football games.”
Wigan Athletic supporter Nathan Sinclair, who had planned to see his club play nearby Huddersfield in the second level championship, said he just wanted to watch some football while he could.
“I have a feeling it could be the last football game in the country for a long time,” he said.
Sinclair said his wife decided not to come because of fears of catching the virus, but said he practiced “social distancing” during the match.
“I read the advice of the government, so I tried to put myself with empty seats around me and I moved once,” he said.
Beer is still flowing
In one of the few games to take place in London, Dulwich Hamlet faced Hemel Hemp-stead in the sixth division of the National League for the South.
The only references to the pandemic were greetings from the now unfamiliar pre-match team and an announcement from the Palestinian Authority that there was no guarantee that the following week’s match at St Alban’s would end. would take place “in these difficult times” – but that the beer and food outlets would be open all afternoon.
“I am more worried that we will just catch this damn bug,” said 75-year-old Archie Harrison, adding that he has supported Hamlet since 1964.
“The problem is, there is nothing I can do to stop it either.”
A good crowd of about 1,400 people showed up at modern and well-equipped Princes Park in Dartford to watch their team take on Chelmsford City in something of a Kent-Essex derby in the National Southern League.
Regulars said there may also be a few outside fans, but the crowd was average.
“Maybe there are fans of Premier League and EFL clubs kicking and wanting to see soccer, but others might be worried about the spread of the virus and not get out of it. home, “said Dartford vice president Dave Skinner.
Dartford missed 3-0 winners to keep his National League promotion prospects alive, although that challenge may or may not materialize.
A National League meeting takes place on Monday after the British government met again to discuss the ban on mass gatherings.
The prospect of a prolonged stop concerns club officials across the pyramid outside the championship.
“It could be a terminal really. We are counting on receipts at the door. If the games are abandoned for the rest of the season, many clubs of our level will go to the wall. Most clubs like us are headed on a circuit short, “said Skinner.
Halifax manager Pete Wild said he was “pleasantly surprised” that the league held firm amid calls to follow the biggest leagues and close, but was also worried about the future.
“We are going to fight, right?” he said. “We need cash out the door to support what we’re doing here. The president is a great supporter of the club, but even he has a limit and he needs the financial resources to play the wages.” It will be catastrophic if we have to stop playing. “”