Empoli midfielder Liam Henderson says playing behind closed doors ‘is not the same’, as the Coronavirus outbreak continues to affect football.
The former Celtic and Hibs player now plies his trade with the Serie B side, where he is on loan from Hellas Verona.
Italy is currently the worst-hit European country by Coronavirus, and it has been announced that Serie A and Serie B are to cease until April 3, as well as all sport.
Henderson’s Empoli have been forced to play their last two games in front of no supporters, a measure that is gradually becoming more frequent across football in Europe, and the 23-year-old has now described what that feels like.
He said (BBC Sport): “Italy as a whole is handling it extremely well.
“The last two games we played with Empoli were behind closed doors. Obviously they’ve tried to continue like that but it’s not the same. The football without the supporters is not the same.
“It’s good that they tried to do it because football is so busy, especially with Euro 2020 coming up in the summer. Personally and collectively as a country it’s right to postpone the matches just now, definitely.”
Rangers’ Europa League away leg against Bayer Leverkusen is set to be played behind closed doors as confirmed by the German club, although Thursday’s clash at Ibrox is still open to ticket holders for now.
Football is for the fans
There may be no choice eventually, but hopefully Scottish football won’t grind to a halt like all sport has in Italy.
Henderson’s comments underline that football, at the end of the day, is for the fans.
They are what give football life and meaning, and hopefully the playing of games behind closed doors won’t be the course of action to take – suspending fixtures so that supporters don’t miss out, and also so that club’s don’t miss out on revenues, seems like a better alternative.