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Life without football has been peculiar to say the least.

By Emily Drakeley

We all knew that it was going to be a long time without football, but the impact really settled-in after a few weeks. Like most dedicated football fans, I plan my life around going to both home and away matches, week in week out, so being at home and not travelling the country is quite strange. Luckily, streaming services allow access to football documentaries and old matches. I’m also thankful that the 1996 Euros will be shown this summer, which is exciting for me, as I have heard many stories about it from my parents, but never got to experience it first-hand.

Clubs have been doing a fantastic job of keeping fan morale high; such as Hull City playing Connect 4 matches online; Leyton Orient with their international FIFA “Quaranteam” tournament, Birmingham City have been conducting interviews with players from their homes, and the list goes on. Clubs have also been pulling footage from their match archives that play an important role in their history, thereby reminding fans of the best moments. This has kept the community spirit high within fan bases, but of course, could never be supplemented by the real thing. They’ve taken the approach that it is almost like an extended preseason – and for me, that is the right thing to do. Create as much content as possible to keep fans engaged for when football returns, while making sure the content is relevant.

Most will miss the physical community spirit of football games. There is nothing like thousands of people coming together for one purpose – to support their team. The feeling of family at football is like no other – and for me, that is probably what I miss the most. Along with checking who we will be playing this weekend, researching the team, and on match day going for lunch at the local supermarket with my extended family. It is a time for family to come together and support a common passion. Being away from family and missing that experience has been the toughest, so far.

The lack of football has impacted my life differently to most fans, as I run a football fan channel. Without current football, there is no fresh content to talk about and little to analyse. Of course, we could look over the season and do a season review, but with the season’s finalisation not yet being announced, we must be careful of what content we create and share.

In terms of the opportunities going forward, there will be desire for more sporting and entertainment events and an increase in fan attendance. The time spent in quarantine has allowed fans to really appreciate every aspect of what the industry provides, whether that be a family feeling, the disappointment of having a below average pie before a match, or the terrible half-time entertainment. Fans will be desperate to get their football fix, and in turn, there will be an increase in sell-out matches. There may also be a rise in the purchase of club merchandise and increased support and positivity surrounding the club – which can only be a good thing.

The desire for fans to attend more sporting and entertainment events will allow for the creation of new festivals in the summers to come, as well as an increase in sporting meet and greets, fans attending training sessions, and heightened fan engagement. The need for fans to get their fix is bigger than ever, and fans will get involved with as much as possible when they are given the green light.

For me, I am hugely looking forward to the football coming back and to be able to see my family again. But above all else, we need to realise that these restrictions are in place to save lives, so I am happy to wait as long as we need to ensure that when football does resume, we are all happy and healthy, and the experience is a safe one.

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