Fans are more important than Premier League cash | Simon Carter

They were just five simple words scrawled on a white sheet and held up for the world to see. Well, for those who had tuned in to watch Arsenal v Liverpool at The Emirates live on Sky Sports in early 2013 to see anyway.
Fratton Park without fans would be unthinkable.Fratton Park without fans would be unthinkable.
Fratton Park without fans would be unthinkable.

Football without fans is nothing’ read the home-made banner, a visual rather than vocal protest against what supporters were seeing as an ever-increasing threat to the sport Alf Garnett once famously called the ‘working man’s ballet’ - the inexorable rise of ticket prices at Premier League grounds.Truer words have rarely been hastily daubed on a linen sheet. Football without fans, after all, is nothing.Take Anfield, home of Liverpool FC. On a non-matchday it’s just a huge ground dominating a traditional working class neighbourhood. Same with Old Trafford, home of Manchester United FC. On a smaller level, same as Fratton Park - some parts of Portsmouth’s sporting cathedral are relatively new, others still appear as if they’re held together by glue.Until, that is, match-day arrives. Then, in the same vein as Madeleine the rag doll waking up when Bagpuss emerges from a snooze, they come, gloriously, to life.The presence of supporters transforms Anfield, Old Trafford, Fratton Park and thousands of other such stadia around the globe, into something to make the heart soar, to make the legs walk that little bit quicker to the game. Under lights, they walk even quicker.‘Put simply, fans transform the games, they give the action in front of them emotional meaning. Take them away, and you are left purely with a sterile experience, verging on pointless, slightly forlorn. Fans make soccer mean something.’Wise words indeed, and they should tug at the heartstrings of all English football fans for sure. The fact they were once written in The New York Times only rams home the fact that ‘soccer’ - as our American friends call it - is the only true worldwide sport.But of course, the phrase ‘football without fans is nothing’ could soon start to take on a different meaning. For the Premier League - Rupert Murdoch’s cash cow furiously milked to within an inch of the wretched beast’s life since 1992 - could return once lockdown is eased with matches behind closed doors. The French League might have been cancelled and the title awarded to Paris St-Germain, and the Dutch League might have been cancelled and no title awarded at all, but here all the talk is of our elite clubs restarting with indecent haste when the time is deemed right. There are a few reasons, but the main one is, inevitably, money. Where the Premier League is concerned, it could hardly be anything else.Former England defender Gary Neville speaks more sense than most. This is what he had to say: ‘The FIFA medical officer said that football should not take place before September. If it was a non-economic decision there would be no football for months.‘How many people have to die playing in the Premier League before it becomes unpalatable? One player? One member of staff goes into intensive care? What risk do we have to take? The discussion is purely economic.’Bang on the mark. If the remaining games are not played, clubs could lose millions from television deals. The fact those games could take place in empty stadiums will be a far less major concern. The bottom line is this - the fans don’t matter as much as some clubs like to say they do. Yes, of course they matter; they just don’t matter as much as the obscene amounts of TV cash matter.That is the unpalatable truth in the Premier League. It was the truth before the Covid-19 pandemic took over our lives, so the raging desire to play games without supporters only reaffirms what I already knew.