Coronavirus: Cantona and Rush decry prospect of football without fans

Liverpool's record scorer Ian Rush and Manchester United hero Eric Cantona say football just will not be the same without supporters.

Published : Apr 19, 2020 15:34 IST

Manchester United favourite Eric Cantona
Manchester United favourite Eric Cantona

Manchester United favourite Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona and Ian Rush are divided by club loyalties but share the same view on behind-closed-doors football: It will not bear comparison to the real thing.

If the 2019-20 season in Europe is to be concluded, it seems certain many matches will have to go ahead without spectators due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic worries.

And while Liverpool great Rush admits it would be wrong for the Anfield table-topper to be awarded the Premier League title without the campaign playing out, the idea of empty stands leaves him cold.

For Manchester United legend Cantona, the absence of supporters would take away a vital element of the football experience, and players would suffer.


Rush told the Sunday Mirror: "I've never played a game behind closed doors, so I don't know what it's like. But I don't think it would bring the best out of me.

“If you're playing in front of no one it begs the question, would you be any good? Would you be up for it, first of all? Would it be the same as a normal game in front of a big crowd? I don't think so."

Social distancing would seem impractical at football, given the close proximity in which spectators are seated at games, so the Premier League faces a likely stark choice: play without fans, or not at all.

“If Liverpool are at home and they can win the league I want to be there even if we all have to be two metres apart," Rush said.

"But seriously, if it doesn't happen and the Premier League is declared null and void then you have to move on and not let it affect you. This Liverpool team is the best I've ever seen and I'm certain they will come again.

"There's no way Liverpool can be awarded the title without the season being finished."


There are concerns within clubs and leagues about broadcasters withholding money if games are not played, meaning many are keen to ensure the fixtures go ahead, crowds or not.

Cantona told French broadcaster RTL: "I'd be delighted if we could restart football as it was before. If we start on June 17 because there's no more problems for anyone, that's great.

"But to resume playing football in front of nobody, just because TV have suspended payments, that's not great, right? You can have exactly the same stakes, the same players, [but] a match behind closed doors isn't a football match.

"The energy that the fans give off, that they transmit to the players, that lifts players.

"You've seen Champions League games behind closed doors. It was the same matches, the same stakes, but it wasn't the same matches. There's none of the passion.

"They players need that energy. It's like at the theatre, to play in front of an empty room or a full room, it's not the same thing."

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