‘They will get used to watching a game on the couch’: Nuno Espirito Santo fears English football will lose a generation of fans as they continue to be barred from stadiums while he also claims the pandemic will ‘have an effect on developing players’
- The last game to take place in England with a full stadium was back on March 9
- There appears little prospect of fans being allowed back in anytime soon
- Nuno Espirito Santo is worried many will have lost the habit of going to games
- Wolves boss also believes English football will suffer a lost generation of players
Nuno Espirito Santo fears English football will suffer a lost generation of fans and players while supporters remain barred from stadiums.
The last game to take place in front of a full crowd in England’s top four divisions was Leicester’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9, the final game before the leagues were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although the professional game returned in June and the 2020-21 season has been running since mid-September, there appears little prospect of fans being allowed back into grounds in the near future – and Wolves boss Nuno is worried many will have lost the habit even when they are cleared to return.
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo fears about the future of fans amid the coronavirus pandemic
He said: ‘We are taking a big risk with what is happening. Fans are the most important part football. I hope our fans come back in the same numbers as before, I really hope so. I don’t want to imagine anything else.
‘Because of the impact the pandemic has had, there are some generations who are now getting into football in a different format. They only see games on the TV and they never feel the atmosphere.
‘If they never learn about what they can experience by going to the stadium, I don’t know if they will go for the first time.
‘And it’s normal [that interest will wane among existing fans]. People get used to different things and day by day they will get used to watching a game sitting on the couch.
Matches continue to be played behind closed doors in England’s top four divisions
‘I find these times very confusing. It doesn’t make too much sense. Why are some activities allowed and others not? Why are some countries partially opening the stadiums and others not?
‘These are political decisions and on political decisions, only history will judge. One thing is for sure: we need our fans back in the stadiums as soon as possible.’
While professional football was able to resume in the summer, the grassroots game has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
The last time a match took place with a full crowd was Leicester’s win vs Aston Villa on March 9
Outdoor sport is currently permitted as long as strict protocols are observed, but many grassroots clubs struggled for survival when they had to close their gates, and may never return to how they were before Covid-19 took hold. Rising infection rates also make these clubs fear they will be required have to shut up shop again, which could spell the end for them.
Nuno added: ‘This moment will have an effect on developing footballers. Players aged 14 or 15, if they can’t always practise daily, this disruption may take them away from the game.
‘Maybe in five years’ time we will see a drop in the number of footballers because of this specific pandemic effect.’
Nuno also fears that the coronavirus crisis will ‘have an effect on developing footballers’