'Fewer then 200 people' - the scale of a behind-closed-doors Championship game

The scale of the operation to hold professional football matches behind closed doors has been highlighted by a report suggesting a Championship club thinks it can do it with fewer than 200 people – but others may need more.

DRY RUN: Wolverhampton Wanderers played behind closed doors last month, at Olympiacos in the Europa League

Read More

Read More
Premier League and EFL prioritise season conclusion even behind closed doors

The financial strain a lack of matches is putting on its clubs means there is a determination within the game to start playing again as soon as is safely possible.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

On Friday, the Premier League and Football League reiterated its desire to complete the 2019-20 season, but the latter has admitted this is most likely to happen without supporters in the stadium.

No fans would not address many of the financial problems associated with the suspension of games but the biggest for the Premier League is that they have an estimated £762m-worth of matches still to be broadcast this season. Those contracts are not just with Sky Sports and BT, but a multitude of overseas broadcasters whose deals are collectively even more lucrative.

There are also concerns that the longer the wait to play again, the more legal problems it could cause around other contracts, including those for players. Traditionally, playing contracts run until June 30.

Playing behind closed doors could potentially bring forward the resumption, and Football League chairman Rick Parry has written to supporters saying if that happens, the League will look to make them available to supporters via the internet or television. The effect the return of football could have on national morale is not to be discounted either.

Shortly before English football shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, a number of matches on the Continent were played behind closed doors, giving the clubs up-to-date models to work with.

The Bundesliga is reportedly planning to have a maximum of 239 people in each stadium if and when it resumes behind closed doors, but according to a report in The National, one un-named Championship club thinks it can do better.

They have calculated how many players, coaches, doctors, paramedics, ambulance drivers, officials, ground safety officers, camera crews, media, directors, coach drivers, stewards, cleaners, caterers and maintenance staff would be needed. They have also factored in an electrician, plus those needed to operate the HawkEye goal-line technology.

The number is significant because the feeling is that no one should be allowed in for these games until they have tested negative for coronavirus, and the number of tests available is an issue throughout the country.

The League Managers' Association has already said it would not be prepared to play games unless all players have been tested, or for them to push ahead of NHS workers in the queue.

Football has become such a complex business that even an “empty” stadium can be quite a busy place.