It was Wednesday 14th April when all Club’s had received the good news from The GFA (Gibraltar Football Association) that the Gibraltar Sports and Leisure Authority would be allowing fans back into the Stadiums as from Friday 16th April 2021.
It has been a long time coming and we have learned a lot, and we hope that by the third week of April we can start to have a percentage back in the stadiums. Gibraltar has suffered its fare share of Covid-19 cases, but the infection rate has dramatically been brought down to a halt thanks to the Vaccine being administrated to the whole population.
Everyone was cautiously watching Easter, a key moment to see how things are going and it would provide an indication of whether fans returning to sporting facilities would have any inclination for the worst.
Lynx has continued to take nothing for granted but If we see that a fourth wave has not started, we can begin to raise very important questions for fans, supporters, and the clubs themselves.
The Yellow Army fans had received the news they have waited months but how will everything work and how many people will we see inside stadiums in the coming month? Supporters have been banned from watching all local games at stadiums and events since the coronavirus pandemic gripped Gibraltar in March 2020. Since then, the Lynx Media Team took ownership of broadcasting their games to all fans alike. It was a true success, and the discovery has given a broader option to those unable to attend the game.
Since the start of broadcasting our games to fans around the world during the global pandemic and lockdown, there has been an increase in interest from these fans in coming to Gibraltar and attending a match once travel restrictions are lifted. This would be great not only for the local game, but also for Gibraltar as a whole, and bringing people here who may not have considered it as a travel destination before, to see what Gibraltar has to offer.
Football really is a different game without the fans present. The noise and atmosphere they bring to the stadium really does make the game. A stadium without fans even makes the television viewers experience a whole lot different. While artificial noise is available on many live matches, it’s clear it is not the same. Players no doubt missing the support and noise in the closing minutes which gives a boost and added intensity to their game in trying to get a last gasp equaliser or winning goal. Celebrating scoring a goal in front of the fans is what the players want. Football is made what it is by the fans. Having them back is crucial to the game. We can’t wait to see the joy and emotion back in the stands that adults and children alike bring.
The ban had hit us financially, whilst we still incurred costs, but suffering from much reduced income.
Elite sports in places like England has continued behind closed doors during their four-week lockdown, but grassroots and amateur sport has been halted since 5 November.
A lot of work has been done to test approaches to the safe return of fans and this, combined with the findings of the government’s Working Group, will be used to inform best practice.