In the last month we have been treated to a packed Wembley for the Euro 2020 final and tennis at a sell-out Wimbledon.
Fans have slowly begun to filter through the turnstiles in Scotland too. I’ve absolutely loved seeing them back at Arbroath.
But just when we all think it’s starting to get better, there’s another kick in the teeth.
Once again, it’s St Johnstone fans who are impacted.
They have already missed out on the biggest season in the club’s history.
Two finals at Hampden, two cups lifted and not a single fan allowed into the stadium.
Galatasaray have almost twice the population of Scotland following their Twitter account – 10 million people.
They are a big draw and it would be a glamourous game for St Johnstone fans to watch.
The fans are the biggest losers but the club and the players will suffer too if it is moved to a neutral venue.
Fans at PSV vs Galatasaray UCL match.
Good to see fans back at the stadiums. pic.twitter.com/vrTsOTD2Hv
— Comeback Kings (@ElijahKyama) July 22, 2021
St Johnstone will have to pay 50,000 Euros for the privilege of playing without their fans. They will miss out on ticket sales, merchandise, corporate sales.
They will even miss the sales from their pie stand.
Now let’s consider the impact on the park.
Ask any footballer what it’s been like playing in front of empty stands for 15 months.
They will all tell you it has been soul destroying.
European nights are all about the fans
Big European nights are, as Callum Davidson said, all about the fans and the atmosphere they generate for the players.
I’ve played in front of packed crowds at Celtic Park for big Champions League nights and on the run to the UEFA Cup Final in 2003.
The noise is incredible and what a lift it gives you as a player.
I can imagine a big crowd at St Johnstone for a European night against a club like Galatasaray would be special.
Instead, it looks like St Johnstone will play that game without their fans, unless PSV capitulate in the second leg.
It is staggering but it sums up football right now.
I understand that Covid cases are getting to a worrying level.
But if we are going to get fans back into grounds, there needs to be some logic behind it.
We played Dundee United at Tannadice at the weekend and there were three stands completely empty.
That’s three stands inside a stadium that almost holds 15,000 people that all have their own exits to disperse onto separate streets.
Why there can’t be more people – evenly spaced out – at a ground like that?
Premiership hopes for Dundee, Dundee United and St Johnstone
Over the last few days Arbroath have played both Dundee United and St Johnstone.
Apart from a completely new haircut for Shaun Rooney, not a lot has changed for Saints.
Callum Davidson has a very hard-working, organised side that will be a challenge for any side they face and they must have top six ambitions.
Dundee United were able to take Lawrence Shankland off and replace him with Nicky Clark and have started solidly enough in terms of Premier Sports Cup matches.
But they’ve had their season of consolidation and I feel there is more pressure on them to be successful this year than there is on Dundee.
Dundee have been going about their business quietly and all they have do is stay in the league and build next season.
Let’s see what happens when the real ball comes out.