Watching Leeds United play without fans is going to take some getting used to over the next few months.
There are few, if any, clubs in England who can boast such an ardent fanbase, and the prospect of seeing Elland Road empty and quiet is as alien as it is disappointing.
Of course, for now at least, keeping fans away from grounds is a necessary measure in the battle to combat the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
But a look at how Italian clubs are planning to get supporters back in the stands could provide a big clue on how the Whites may go about things when the time is right.
The Telegraph notes that authorities in Italy are already discussing the possibility of reopening stadiums to the public, with Serie A set to resume on June 13th.
Measures that would allow any such move to happen would include limiting the capacity of grounds to one third of their usual size, with fans sat in every third seat, hand sanitising stations at every entrance, and heat checks for supporters upon arrival to ensure that they are not displaying symptoms of Covid-19.
As Lecce president Saverio Sticchi Damiani puts it: “I think that, if possible, it would be good to create a rotation between our 20,000 season-ticket holders, obviously blocking the sale of new tickets.
“We have a 30,000-seat stadium in Lecce, so it would be nice to offer some of our fans – in rotation – a little entertainment, always obviously following necessary precautions and guaranteeing social distancing.”
It would be far from an ideal solution, of course, but allowing a limited number of fans into a match on a rotation basis – provided all safety and sanitisation measures were carried out properly – could be a good idea.
Not only would it boost morale for supporters, but it would also help players to feel as if things were returning to some kind of normality, as well as really improving the atmosphere in grounds to boot.
Rushing to bring these measures in before the end of this campaign probably isn’t the best idea, but if it is trialled and proves to be successful in Italy, it is definitely something that English authorities should consider ahead of next season.
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