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How important are match-going fans to Premier League clubs?

Here we look at how much of an impact empty stadiums will have on Premier League clubs when football finally returns next week.

Premier League football will finally return next week after a three-month hiatus. Players resumed individual training in May and full contact training was given the green light earlier this month as clubs geared-up for the big kick-off.

Top flight clubs agreed last week that games will begin on Wednesday, June 17 when Manchester City entertain Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium while Sheffield United travel to Aston Villa that same night.

It’s obviously great to have football back in our lives after a difficult few months but it won’t be anything like what we’re used to as all remaining 92 Premier League fixtures will be played behind closed doors, without match going fans.

Playing in-front of empty stadiums is going to be extremely difficult for the players as they’re used to thousands of supporters cheering them on every week. A study by Betway found that the average attendance at a Premier League game during the 2018/19 season was over 38,000, with more than 14.5m fans going through the turnstiles overall.

To go from packed stadiums to empty seats is going to be surreal but how much of an affect will it have on player performance? The Bundesliga has already resumed and there have been some interesting stats with home wins accounting for just 27% of results – down from around 49% – and almost half of games have been won by the away side. This clearly shows the home ‘advantage’ has been lost without fans.

It’s no real surprise when you consider the noise that’s created by supporters inside stadiums. The volume generated can be louder than a rock concert, with the loudest ever recorded being 132dB at Galatasary’s Turk Telecom Arena – that’s louder than a pneumatic drill [130bD].

Without those passionate fans cheering them on, players will no doubt lose that extra 10% they’d normally get from the supporters by feeding off the energy from the stands. Performances will undoubtedly be adversely effected and we could see some shock results in the Premier League over the coming weeks.

The influence of fans isn’t just on the pitch either as the global crisis will also have a devastating effect on many clubs’ finances as ticket sales still account for a large portion of their revenue streams.

The Betway study shows that during the 2018/19 campaign, supporters generated around £677m in matchday revenue for Premier League clubs, which accounts for around 13 per cent of the overall turnover for the 20 teams. That’s a significant sum to be losing.

Some clubs will feel that loss more than others. Last season, Manchester United made £111m from matchday income – 18 per cent of their £627m turnover – while Bournemouth only generated £5m from their matchday’s.

Sheffield United could be the worst affected top flight club. The Blades stand to lose £6.5m of matchday income. That may not sound a lot but when you consider their overall turnover was just £21.5m, the loss of matchday income will wipe away 30% of their turnover.

So while we can all celebrate the return of football next week, it’s worth remembering the lack of match-going fans is going to have a real effect on the players and a devastating impact on the clubs finances.

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