Manchester City have not played football since the postponement of the season following the global pandemic, however preparations are now underway for a return to action in June 2020.
The potential return of the football season in June 2020 has been met with mixed reactions from many Manchester City fans. Many match going supporters believe that football should not be played until it is safe for spectators to return.
Many supporters who primarily watch on the TV are more used to a remote interaction with the match and some of these are keen to see the resumption of any football on our screens.
Many fans who watch games which are televised believe that the atmosphere generated by fans in the stadium is an essential part of the experience but some consider it less important. Whilst these arguments have raged in social media there has been an ongoing global pandemic going on too.
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So far in the United Kingdom it is estimated that there have been over 50,000 deaths and although the death rate appears to be falling, much still needs to be done.
This of course has generated a secondary level of debate amongst fans: is it morally right that football should continue whilst people are dying of coronavirus?
Should football authorities be engaged in the acquisition of virus testing kits when their actions are in effect driving up the price of a limited supply and reducing the availability of tests to many frontline health workers?
It is against this backdrop that attention has turned to the German Bundesliga which saw matches resume over the weekend, albeit in much changed circumstances. So as Manchester City fans what can we learn from watching the return of the Bundesliga?
The games in Germany were played “behind closed doors” rendering the matches eerily silent. This was reminiscent of a sanitised practice match lacking any vigour or adrenaline and curiously offered little of interest. Substitutes were socially distant. Goal celebrations were muted and to all intents and purposes the game felt different to matches which had taken place before.
The pretence about the resumption of football being about “the fans” or to cheer up an ailing population was laid bare. The empty stadium and leisurely games were just going through the motions for the TV money, for this is what is driving the return of football.
The real danger is that this weakened return of football – without any real sporting integrity – damages the product in the longer term. Will fans return to live matches?
For Manchester City fans it is fair to say regardless of which side of the fence you sit – whether you are for or against the return of football at the current time – there was little to enjoy about the German Bundesliga return.
A year ago today Manchester City destroyed Watford at Wembley in the FA Cup Final by winning 6:0 in a thrilling game of attacking and free flowing football. I was amongst the fans that day and it was a fantastic experience. A similar victory in an empty stadium would be nothing like that experience for any fan – no matter where you were watching from.
All we can do is hope that at some point soon, there will be a vaccination and normal life can return. I hope to one day see Manchester City win at Wembley again from the stands, let us all hope that will not be have to wait too long.