Why there's nothing wrong with cutouts and Portsmouth's bid to manufacture the Fratton bearpit

It's an all together unexpected footballing philosophical crisis.

Thursday, 18th June 2020, 2:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th June 2020, 3:59 pm
Pompey fans. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The long-held view in these quarters has been any club who needs to manufacture an atmosphere are in big trouble.

The feeling is somewhere between disdain and contempt for the stadiums that have to turn to clackers and 1,000 decibel trance tracks to create some noise.

Sunderland can keep Charlie Methven's attempts to make things a 'bit Ibiza' at the Stadium of Light. Clackers at St Mary's? Yep, sounds about right.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Cardboard cut-outs of Borussia Moenchegladbach's supporters. Picture: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

For a proper raw, organic footballing atmosphere which respects the game's traditions, everyone knows Fratton Park is the place to be.

Which makes watching the game in these unprecedented times all a bit confusing.

It started with the Bundlesliga and La Liga's returns and has accelerated as we welcomed the Premier League's back to our screens last night.

The vast, empty cavernous stadia which have provided the backdrop to games has created an issue which football has answered with tools from the devil's arsenal.

Piped-in crowd noise and cutout supporters? Really? Surely when it comes to viewing experience that's the equivalent of Piers Morgan's football opinions - wholly pointless.

But the fact is, it definitely works. As much as instinct tells you to resist, it's certainly better than the alternative.

The online polls over recent days suggest that's not just an individual opinion but a consensus among football fans.

Creating some kind of artificial playing environment is an avenue Pompey are going down ahead of next Friday's play-off with Oxford United.

The club are exploring their options and will debate goal music, how the players enter the pitch and how useful piped-in sound will be.

It's likely the EFL will look after the latter, so don't necessarily expect the ebbs and flows in noise which mimic fans at a normal game as we've seen - but tonight's League Two play-offs will prove interesting in seeing how things work.

It's the option of fans buying cutouts which has caused a stir in recent days.

That's perhaps understandable given our senses tell us to treat such initiatives with suspicion.

But these are unusual times and if fans want to pay a company £25 so they can have a laugh spotting their mugs on TV, is that really such a bad thing?

That’s not exploitation from this vantage point and perhaps the past couple of months have shown us there's more important things to agitate over in the current climate, too.

So, yes, in normal circumstances we'd be right to laugh, mock and go to town when the marketeers get it horribly wrong - modern football can be a bit rubbish at times, after all.

But maybe in these unique circumstances, recent events have shown that's not quite the case here. But if anyone stops Mike Oldfield's Portsmouth being played there will be hell to pay...