RGM Sport – The Crowd. What is it about the crowd that we have all missed so much?
Of all the life-changing issues that have arisen over the last few months, there is nothing wrong with talking about the void that sport (or lack of it) has left in our day to day lives.
This is just part of the desperate want for a return to normality we all feel – just like being able to see your family or go to a gig. These are the foundations of personal well-being and as the weekends have come and gone, it’s only increased longing for competition to be back.
When safe to do so, clubs at all levels obviously need the whistle to blow, setting the ball rolling for players and kickstarting them again commercially – no matter how big or small the operation. At times, the big guns of English football are easy to target for how detached from day to day life they appear. In fact, only 13% of Premier League clubs total revenue comes from matchday. It’s true they are blessed with an enviable pool of resources to shield them but, the fundamental problems of the last months are so similar to all levels of sport – and as we have seen with the restart of the Bundesliga, fans in the stadium are still the greatest necessity to any live event.
In late April, the UK government offered an initial support package of £16million to rugby league, which by all accounts has helped save the sport as we know it. And with the Chief Executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board saying they could be facing a loss of £380million, the impact of this ongoing crisis will continue to be wide reaching.
Clubs crippled by debt and financial mismanagement have become commonplace in the last few years, with the lights going out at Bradford Bulls in league and Bury FC in football. These examples both happened with loyal fans still able to actually go and support their team, alongside the associated sponsorship that matchday activity guarantees. Just like the local high street, footfall in sport is everything. So how the landscape of ‘new normal’ may look for clubs starved of that over this period remains to be seen. It may be that an increase in broadcasting can stem the tide for “behind closed doors” games, but will that just skew the market towards football even further? Thus, leaving behind the likes of county cricket and vast swathes of women’s sport.
Don’t forget too, the pub and takeaway next to the ground that need to start selling pints and chips again. How about the programme seller raising a little extra cash, or the student trying to gain experience for their career.
And what about the ‘new normal’ for us as fans? We spend a lot of our lives being told to stand out, rise above the rest and strive for individuality. However, the essence of sport is about being together. Be it as a fan on the terrace, a player in a team, it is the support network and release you just didn’t appreciate you had. Solitude is bliss, but not if it lasts forever.
As it looks like we are edging towards a return for sport, we can start to dive back into the bittersweet emotions that come hand in hand with results and, at least temporarily, part with the stress of 2020 so far. Less appreciated than that though – the basic fun of travelling to the game, eating and drinking before, listening to the heated discussion in the toilet queue and complaining, at three-nil down, that you should really be doing more important things.
It might be together with friends and family, other fans, or even just sitting among other commuters.