Neil Warnock: Absence of supporters is affecting their mental health

MIDDLESBROUGH manager Neil Warnock has spoken of his dismay at the fact that small amounts of supporters are not able to attend home fixtures of their clubs - and believes that it is having an impact on the mental health of many devoted fans across the land.

Neil Warnock.

The Government paused the phased return of fans to stadiums last month following a spike in Covid-19 cases, with it looking unlikely that any supporters will return to grounds at EFL and Premier League clubs before the New Year.

Back in September, several clubs - including Boro - held pilot games allowing 1,000 people into selected EFL games, only for the programme to be subsequently put on hold for the foreseeable future.

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By the start of October, a petition to allow fans back into stadiums had been signed by over 100,000 people.

Warnock said: "I do hope they come up with a solution as quite frankly, I find it strange at the moment and don't know who is making the decisions that we cannot have small crowds in like we had against Bournemouth. Our club was so professional and it was so well organised.

"When I look at people watching Arsene Wenger having a talk in the Royal Albert Hall all sat next to each other...I just don't understand it and who is making the decisions.

"I don't think we had a problem at all. We had families keeping together and along the line, there would be the next family and I think people can organise it like that.

"We need it just to get people back into grounds, but for them mentally as well. People need an outlook in life. It is such a miserable, depressing outlook at the moment and the Government need to look at that, really.

"I cannot see how we cannot have 1,000 fans in like we did against Bournemouth."

For lower-division clubs especially, the importance of allowing a limited amount of fans back into stadiums is heightened by the fact that most are experiencing huge financial uncertainity, amid fears that some could go out of business this winter.

Crisis talks to come up with a rescue package to help stricken EFL clubs across the divisions are likely to continue this week.

A £50million bailout offer comprising of grants and interest-free loans to League One and Two clubs was rejected last Thursday by the EFL, which is seeking a solution which helps Championship clubs as well.

Warnock said: "I think it is vital.. Sometimes, when you are sat on your loft looking down, you don't realise the lower clubs are, really.

"I look at Scarborough, who I took into the league and had a great time and now, they have gone out of the league and there is nothing mentioned about the place.

"I think it is so sad when people have supported them all their lives. I think the lower clubs are vital and I had some great times at Gainsborough Trinity and Burton Albion in the non-league and Burton are a really family-orientated club. I know they will be needing help, like all the clubs down there."