02:00PM, Sunday 10 May 2020
Being ‘brutally honest’, Slough Town manager Neil Baker can’t see non league football returning before the new year because of the threat of a second wave of coronavirus.
Baker admitted he’s ‘massively missing’ the buzz of coaching the Rebels and interacting with the squad, but – after five or six weeks of lockdown – he’s contemplating the prospect of being without it for much, much longer.
While lockdown restrictions could be eased by the government this week, it seems likely that mass gatherings will be one of the final things to return as life slowly goes back to normal.
“I’m okay,” he said. “I’m just massively bored now. I was okay for the first five or six weeks, it was quite a nice break, but I’m massively missing it now.
“I’ll be brutally honest. I’m not holding out much hope for non league football. It can’t survive on no crowds or even reduced crowds. Even if they turned around and said, ‘you can have a maximum of 500 supporters’, non league football wouldn’t last on that, at least not in the guise that we know it. For me mass congregations aren’t going to be allowed any time soon because of the threat of a second wave of the virus. That’s why I can’t see anything happening this year. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think I will be.”
The Premier League has been earmarked for a possible return from next month, with matches played behind closed doors, however, without the atmosphere of a crowd, Baker doesn’t think it will be much of a spectacle.
“It’s going to be strange,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of friends who are big Liverpool fans and they’re getting excited that it might finish.
“But I said to them ‘how are you going to feel? You can’t be there.
“There’s going to be no atmosphere. The players at Liverpool know they’ve won the title already.
“It’s just a formality’.
“That excitement, that buzz, everything you get from football comes from the atmosphere.
“That’s not going to be there and it’s going to be very bizarre.”
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