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  • The most bizarre aspect of last week’s EFL Trophy match between Cambridge United and Fulham Under-21s was the presence in the stands of that most recherché of things, football fans. A total of 862 of them, to be precise — the first supporters at a UK football ground for a senior competitive fixture (sort of) in seven months.
    This was a trial run by the English Football League, an attempt to show that games could take place pretty much like they used to without thousands dropping dead of Covid-19 a week later. It is not quite a week later, as I write, so I suppose we shall see. Cambridge won 2-0, incidentally.
    The EFL, perhaps even more than the Premier League, is aghast at government suggestions that the long awaited return of supporters, on October 1, may be “reviewed” in the light of Covid’s recent upturn in form. The farther down the league pyramid you go, the more important gate money is. Leagues One and Two receive pitiful amounts of dosh from the broadcasters and even the Championship — one of Europe’s bigger leagues in terms of spectators — gets only a fraction of the money accrued by the top tier.

    The absence of fans will cost EFL clubs about £200 million in revenue and the plan, from next month, to allow much reduced, socially distanced crowds is seen as vital for the lower-tier clubs. Caps on attendances are not quite the problem they seem at first sight, given that on average EFL clubs fill only 60 per cent of their capacity in normal times.

    That percentage reduces the farther down the leagues you go until you reach Barrow, just promoted from the National League, whose ground holds 5,045 spectators but whose average attendance last season (while top of the table) was below 1,500: no great problem for them in restricted attendances, then.

    Championship clubs will be harder hit. My lot, Millwall, expect to be allowed 30 per cent capacity for home games from next month, which would amount to about half the average attendance and thus a slicing in half of match-day revenue. What the experience will be like depends entirely on the clubs. Some may take your temperature as you go through the turnstiles (I just bet Charlton Athletic do that. It’s such a Charlton thing to do). Others will not.

    A spokesman for the EFL told me that there would be no blanket restriction on singing, chanting, shouting virulent abuse etc, nor an insistence on wearing masks while watching the game (even if they should be worn while entering the ground). All that is down to the individual clubs.

    Millwall expect to be allowed 30 per cent capacity for home games from next month
    Millwall expect to be allowed 30 per cent capacity for home games from next month
    PA

    The clubs have been on their uppers for a long while now. Even in a normal season most EFL clubs operate at a loss. Their one salvation recently has been the enormous rise in the use of the streaming service iFollow, which charges fans ten quid per game, a proportion of which goes to the clubs.

    But the smaller sides feel the system is unfair, as Andy Holt, chairman of Accrington Stanley, has pointed out. Money is paid out relative to the number of tickets purchased by the fans of each club. So, when Accrington play Portsmouth, Pompey would expect to receive more than 95 per cent of the receipts at Fratton Park and about half for the away game, given their larger support. I am still unsure as to why that is unfair: Accrington will still receive receipts from their paying fans. How much Portsmouth get shouldn’t bother them.

    The Premier League, meanwhile, is incandescent that the government’s review may put back the starting date for fans being allowed in. It has also refused to take part in any further pilot events in which 1,000 or fewer are permitted to watch. The Premier League points out, with some justification, that while such pilots may provide a useful yardstick for Cambridge, it would be facile to pretend that allowing 1,000 people to watch Arsenal play Liverpool at the Emirates could provide any useful guidance as to how clubs might manage crowds on match days. It would also be prohibitively expensive.

    Richard Masters, chief executive of the Premier League, said: “The Premier League recognises the ambition of government’s Operation Moonshot and will support the project’s objectives to get fans back into stadiums. However, we believe measures are already available which would allow the safe return of fans and should also be activated now. As the government begins its review of the October 1 date for the return of spectators to sport, the Premier League asks that the high safety standards that can be achieved by our clubs are fully taken into account before any decision is made and that sport is not left behind by other industries.”

    Things are not likely to be back to normal for a long time. It would not surprise me if the government did put more restrictions on when and how fans may watch games live. It has a memory of the large Covid spike occasioned when Liverpool played Atletico Madrid in the Champions League all those months ago.



  • Responsible thing to do,just like half the stores I've visited.  Of course if your customer base at The Den are knuckle dragging Neanderthals, then all that hair around their eyes makes a temperature reading rather difficult.
  • edited September 13
    Just a spineless sellout prick.  He'd slag off his mum in the press if he thought it would help him get more idiot readers.
  • Their home crowd is normally 30% of their capacity unless they are playing in their cup final. It’s such a Charlton thing.
  • I admire the way he turns a smidgin of talent and a humungous pile of bile into a career. Apart from that I detest him absolutely.
  • spanner prick
  • edited September 14
    Better has a dig at us instead of his pregnant missus, again.

    Spanner wife beating scruffy shithouse.
  • rod -- you're a dick
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  • Rod Liddle the Spanner cnut!

    Nuff said.
  • Last week in Rodders Towers as our literary hero is finishing his column...
    Mrs RL: Rodders, the Sunday Times Editor is on the blower for you.
    RL: OK, cherub, I’ll take the call in my little Nou Den
    STE: Rodney, it’s that time again to show us you actually have readers of your column but you don’t seem to get much email traffic from our readers, I thought you were a Millwall fan, surely they would send you the occasional missive. Don't they read your column ?
    RL: Er, I don’t think they are your typical ST reader tbh STE
    STE: without the email traffic, how will we be able to justify keeping your column going. Isn’t there at least one set of football fans you can count on to read and respond to your column once in a while ?
    RL leave it will me STE, I’ll just add an extra comment to my column this week. It’s bound to get an instant reaction...
  • "It's such a Charlton thing to do"? What a strange comment.

    He seems a little obsessed with CAFC, which is weird, because they don't have a rivalry with us. Unique.
  • Probably best to ignore. He is one of life's dog turds that you only tread in if you aren't watching where you are going.
  • Rod Liddle dick
  • He reckons he knows what is such a Charlton thing to do.
    So is that famous video of the woman with the little boy in the car, the boy wearing the policeman kit and being taught 'Millwall, feck 'em all' and he finishes with 'black c**t' such a Millwall thing to do?
    I wouldn't know particularly, I wonder what Liddle would say about that. 
  • edited September 14
    Why do people pay any attention to this utter wankstick of a man? He's not worth the steam off your piss. Ignore him and don't give the pathetic flickering flame of what remains of his career the oxygen it doesn't deserve
  • Sensitive little souls, aren't we? :wink:
    Don’t take the piss , the whole world’s against us 
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  • edited September 15
    Sensitive little souls, aren't we? :wink:
    Don’t take the piss , the whole world’s against us 
    Now there's a lesson in how to respond, if I ever saw one.

    Ever thought about putting an online course together for a few on here that struggle to keep their emotions in check? ;)
  • Sensitive little souls, aren't we? :wink:
    I took it as a compliment. It’s a bit like the prostrate tests, going that extra step. 
  • Redrobo said:
    Sensitive little souls, aren't we? :wink:
    I took it as a compliment. It’s a bit like the prostrate tests, going that extra step. 
    Exactly. He highlighted that, as a club, you'd do the right thing. He may not have meant it like that, but that's how I read it and thought any sensible Charlton fan would also see it like that.
  • Always makes me laugh how both the spanners and the Nigels spend so much energy out trying to tell everyone they don't care about us yet can't help keep talking about us.
  • Moving on from his dig at us, this bit stuck out:

    "But the smaller sides feel the system is unfair, as Andy Holt, chairman of Accrington Stanley, has pointed out"

    Good one Andy. Do you also feel that the salary cap is unfair, given that sides like Sunderland and Ipswich can only spend the same as your side who get crowds of about 2k?
  • buckshee said:
    Always makes me laugh how both the spanners and the Nigels spend so much energy out trying to tell everyone they don't care about us yet can't help keep talking about us.
    Don't make me link the Millwall relegation thread ;)
  • edited September 15
    Oh dear Mr  Wife Beater Liddle,

    It looks like taking fans temperatures is, in fact, a very Millwall thing to do.


  • Sensitive little souls, aren't we? :wink:
    I just don’t like men who bash about pregnant women.
  • Sensitive little souls, aren't we? :wink:
    Agreed, some pretty OTT indignation for what was pretty mild banter
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