"Football is nothing without the fans" according to former Wolves goalkeeper

Monday, March 16th, 2020 1:46pm

By Josh O'Brien @JoshJohnOBrien1

Ex-Wolves shot stopper Matt Murray thinks that playing games behind closed doors was never an ideal situation and fears a suspension of footballing action could have serious repercussions for smaller clubs down the leagues.

Friday morning saw the Premier League and the EFL both announce games would be suspended until the first weekend in April at the earliest due to the growing spread of COVID-19. 

Before that announcement, games all over Europe were either falling foul of cancellations or being forced to be played behind closed doors.

Manchester United's Europa League last-16 clash at the home of Austrian side LASK was played in an empty stadium as a precaution, consequently giving the game having a rather eerie feel to it with no spectators according to Ben Thornley who was at the game commentating.

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Speaking to Andy Hodgson's Kicking Off on Love Sport Radio, ex-Wolves 'keeper Matt Murray bemoaned the fact some games were played behind closed doors before the suspension was announced. 

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"The biggest thing for me that is shown is look, we love our football, we miss it but football is nothing without the fans. And without the fans that is the biggest impact. 

"The players hate playing behind closed door stadiums, the revenue, and I think the fans, you know, have threatened to vote with their feet if people keep hiking the prices. This is obviously a different way that has been brought about but it's showed me well this is what our game could look like if we don't respect the fans. 

"But yeah, we need to contain it. It's difficult. I don't know about you, I have missed my football big time. So hopefully, hopefully we're back on track soon."

Murray went on to debate the kind of impact no match-day action would have on clubs who don't have the financial resources that some of the Premier League's big boys can boast in this tricky period.

"They definitely will struggle. And we've already seen clubs going to the wall or struggling in bad situations before this happened. But now, obviously for the big boys, you know their gate receipts isn't the biggest thing. They make so much money through other avenues, whether it's the TV rights, the sponsorship deals. But for the smaller clubs, they will go game by game, and they'll need the revenue coming in.

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"But also that's where I hope that the bigger clubs, as well and the government, do step in and not only helping the clubs but help the businesses held up by football, as you said the catering people.

"There's so many things that revolve around sports. So yeah, this is worrying times. It's concerning times and again for the players, if their wages have to be stopped, you've seen what happened again; the likes of Macclesfield and Southend when their wages aren't paid, Bolton when they were in their situation- it's very difficult for staff and players.

"So if that is going to be the case and there are cash flow problems, you hope the powers that be step in to help out because this is unforeseen. This isn't people running their club poorly. Nobody would ever see a pandemic like this coming and the revenue stop."

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