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Sterilized balls & silent stadia: 10 ways football will be VERY DIFFERENT when it finally returns

Sterilized balls & silent stadia: 10 ways football will be VERY DIFFERENT when it finally returns
As clubs around the world work out ways to bring players back to full-time training ahead of possible restarts to abandoned seasons, it's becoming clear just how different football will be once it emerges from its Covid-19 hiatus.

Some outlandish ideas have been suggested to deal with the coronavirus fallout - from supporters watching games on giant screens in car parks to fake fan noise inside stadiums - but the truth is a game behind closed doors will never seem quite the same. 

Here are some ways we will see a whole new ball game once the corona-enforced break finally comes to an end. 

THE FANS

Of course the lack of paying and singing supporters is going to be the most glaring omission to a big game day. Quite apart from the lack of revenue that pours in thanks to thousands of tickets, the noise generated is just as important. A goal scored to abject silence isn’t going to inspire any player to launch into a fancy celebration. Unless it’s Paul Pogba possibly. That’s why the suggestion of piping in crowd noise for live broadcasts has been suggested recently. While stadium car parks with giant screens in them has been suggested to allow fans to watch the game, it’s more likely to cause huge traffic jams and a great deal of broken windscreens. 

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MORE SUBSTITUTIONS 

FIFA have proposed that the number of subs allowed during a game be increased to five in order to lessen the strain on players during a hectic season. Not only that, should a game go into extra time, the number would be increased to six. Some teams could benefit more than others of course, as you could be bringing on a peak-years Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or, more likely, Marouane Fellaini to punt it up to as a desperate plan B.

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THE MATCHDAY PROGRAMME 

With the obvious issues that passing a pamphlet out to thousands of people raises during the time of a transmittable disease, clubs have moved to work up ‘digital’ programmes which could be emailed out to season ticket holders on Match days, allowing them to swipe through the manager’s ‘blog’ before taking their seats. In their living room.

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NO MORE CORNER MELEES

What would football be like without the sight of Phil Jagielka trying to tear a striker’s shirt and skin off as a corner swings in? Well we shall soon find out, as plans are in place to significantly reduce the amount of player contact at set plays to avoid possible contamination. This is one of the rules less likely to be adhered to it has to be said.

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NO POLICE HORSES 

The clip-clop of a police horse is one of the more familiar sounds on a match day, as the docile equines either pose for selfies or get punched on the nose by an irate Newcastle fan. Of course without any crowds to control these magnificent beasts will presumably be able to lay around and graze all day, much like most of us at the moment.

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PLAYERS WITHOUT CLUBS 

Sad to say, but footballers certainly won’t escape the economic fallout and it’s likely that some players coming to the end of their contracts this summer simply won’t have them renewed. If they have a history of injury it’s also far less likely that clubs will take a chance on them with the risks involved in investing magnified by such unsure times. However, there could be bargains on the market in the form of Edinson Cavani, Willian and Adam Lallana.

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FEWER FIXTURES

Aside from the overspending of many clubs from each division, another truth to be examined during the hiatus is simply the amount of games players are expected to play. With travel likely to be disrupted for some time, the logistics and the money simply won’t be available to warrant flying to Moldova and back for a group stage Europa League game. The Champions League and domestic competitions such as the Premier League are too lucrative to abandon, but expect a possible break from domestic cup action such as England's Carabao Cup and possibly the FA Cup too. 

NO SPITTING 

One thing most of us can agree with is that an end to mucus projectile from the nose or mouth on a football pitch is definitely one of the better results of the current crisis. Some players seem to do it more than others, but you can already imagine the cries of disgust from the nation’s living rooms at Cristiano Ronaldo blowing a fountain of sports drink whale-like all over an unsuspecting physio. 

Also on rt.com Did we really need a global pandemic to rid football of its DISGUSTING spitting addiction?

AN END TO (SOME) LAVISH SPENDING 

The coronavirus will have an impact on even the richest clubs, as Manchester United supremo Ed Woodward laid bare in a call earlier this week, with belts being tightened and wages being deferred it simply makes no sense to blow hundreds of millions on an asset that could be sitting with his feet up watching Netflix for months on end. One thing that could push back the other way however is a move like the mooted Saudi takeover of Newcastle United, with cash-rich owners needing to hand out lucrative contracts in order to tempt the big name players to a less-than-glamorous team.

Also on rt.com So what if Ronaldo, Messi and Co. are getting pay cuts? It's about time football's ludicrous wage bubble burst

STERILE FOOTBALLS 

Given some of the dire 0-0 draws served up week after week around the world, fans will be more than aware of how sterile football can be. But this time around sterility will be welcomed, as footballs and goalposts are wiped down with gusto to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. As one club employee told Sky, “anything that can be wiped down, will be wiped down.”

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