Pep Guardiola says ‘no sense’ in playing behind closed doors as Coronavirus crisis intensifies

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Kieran Harm
Football and NFL Writer. Specialising in the Premier League and Bundesliga

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola told media today that he thinks there is ‘no sense’ in hosting football games without any fans inside the ground.

Pep Guardiola’s comments on COVID-19 and stadium closures

Since the threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has increased across Europe, the authorities in certain countries have ordered Champions League matches and beyond be played without fans.

“Does football work without spectators?” asked Guardiola. “If the people can’t come, there is no sense. We will follow what we have to do, but I wouldn’t like to do it without the people.”

A number of European games, both this week and next, will be played inside empty stadiums. PSG’s Champions League game against Dortmund in Paris, Valencia against Atalanta and Thursday’s Europa League games involving Manchester United and Wolves will all be played without any supporters in attendance.

As well as that, Chelsea’s trip to Bayern Munich next week is also set to be behind closed doors. Meanwhile, the entirety of the Italian Serie A has been temporarily postponed with the country in complete lockdown – some outlets are even reporting that the Italian authorities may cancel the entire season.

Pep Guardiola at Old Trafford
Pep Guardiola has spoken today about the impact that closing down football stadiums could have

“We are conscious of it because it has happened already in Italy,” said City boss Guardiola. “The league is suspended, and in Spain the next two weeks are behind closed doors.

“It is going to happen here. The tendency rises at the same level as Italy before and in Spain right now. The other issue you have to ask is, is it worse to play football without the spectators? We do our job for the people and if the people cannot come to watch us, there is no sense.

“I would not love to play matches in the Premier League or Champions League or the cups without the people. But we are going to follow the instructions of the government.”

Is a good idea to close the stadiums?

From a personal level, I totally agree with Pep. There is no point at all in playing games without fans in the ground – they should simply postpone those games. If/when England start banning spectators, it could have a major effect.

If the UK Government bans large gatherings in the country and we have to start having football matches played without fans, then it could seriously impact some of the smaller clubs.

Southend United players
Teams like League One’s Southend United rely heavily on gate receipts – banning fans could have a serious impact

When you start to get to League One and League Two, matchday revenue equates for over half of their revenue – taking that away could be absolutely cataclysmic for these football clubs from a financial perspective.

The other issue I have with closing the doors of these football stadiums is that it’s a totally pointless measure. All of the fans who were going to go to the stadium to watch the game will now congregate in more compact groups inside public houses and bars – ergo, the risk will still be the same, if not greater, than it would have been before.

Either way, the Coronavirus issue is a serious one – it’s a matter of life and death. The impact it’s having on the world of sport, while of course frustrating, pales in comparison to the impact the disease is having on lives across the world.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and stop buying bog roll in bulk – have some consideration for the others.

For more like this, visit our dedicated football page which you can find by clicking right here. Meanwhile, drop us a follow on Twitter for more coverage on COVID-19’s impact on sport, as well as some more light-hearted things.

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