Robinson: Long-term fan absence will cause financial difficulty

The Motherwell boss is fearful that the pandemic could cause hardship for the club.

Robinson: Long-term fan absence will cause financial difficulty SNS

Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson has warned of difficult financial times if the absence of fans continues long term.

Indicative plans for a return of fans to Scottish sports stadiums from October 5 are unlikely to take place after an announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, although she played down suggestions that new measures could remain for six months.

Motherwell are in a better financial position than many of their rivals amid their Europa League run and the £4m transfer income secured this year.

But Robinson has warned the impact will be felt in the boardroom as well as from the pitch and the dugout if a way is not found to safely reintroduce supporters.

“The financial health of every industry has been affected and football is certainly no different,” he said.

“The lifeblood of football is fans, especially at a club like ourselves. We don’t have a big benefactor, we don’t have people putting money in.

“Without the player sales of James Scott and David Turnbull, I would imagine the club would be in a real sticky situation.

“The run in Europe helps bring money in as well but the fans are the lifeblood of this club and without them it’s going to be a real difficult task ahead.

“It’s certainly not something we want to get used to. We had set our hopes on getting fans in sooner rather than later.”

Robinson admitted he was missing supporters every game, especially during their European adventures and Sunday’s 3-0 win at Aberdeen.

“When you look at Sunday’s win, there was no one there to enjoy it, it was absolutely dead,” he said ahead of their trip to Israel to face Hapoel Beer-Sheva.

“Football is nothing without fans, it’s like a pre-season game. Sunday was so strange, it was completely dead, the first 10 minutes was like playing in the park with your mates.

“It’s something we can’t have long term. The health implications have to come long before anything else but hopefully there is something we can work on together because I think football has done its very best to adhere to every rule possible.

“I have to give credit to Aberdeen on Sunday, that was probably the best I have seen in how they carried out their protocols. It was fantastic and it does give you a level of feeling safe.

“Obviously there have been lapses, we are not going to deny that. You are dealing with young people and people make mistakes and stupid mistakes at times. But on the whole I think it’s been incredibly good and football has set standards.”

There was no suggestion of the Scottish Premiership being halted or any delay to the lower-league season during Sturgeon’s announcement and Robinson believes football can be a major source of comfort during the pandemic.

“People are on their own a lot,” the Northern Irishman said.

“I spoke to my mum and dad this morning and they are worried they are going to be stuck on their own for the next three months. So from the mental health side of things, football can give us that respite, it’s all on TV and people can see it.

“In a world where things are complicated and strange, football can be that relieving factor and that joy that people are trying to find.

“For the mental side, you have seen some of the effects on older people who live and die for their football club in Scotland, it’s a huge part of the community and I believe the government recognises what it brings to the community.” 

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