Behind closed doors ?

Test Matches, Premier Leagues Matches, Grands Prix even a few Promenade concerts are planned to take place “Behind Closed Doors”. No spectators, no audience – an idea as empty as the venues would be.

Test cricket needs spectators

Let’s start with the cricket. The West Indies cricket team – their players, coaches and the rest are invited to play five day test matches with their health and safety supposedly protected. They will stay in accommodation on site in the grounds and be isolated from the disease-ridden world around them. Two questions: (1) Why, what’s the point? (2) Does anyone really believe that their health and safety can be secured ?

The West Indies need the money and I suspect that is the only reason that they are coming to England. The virus is not under control in Britain which has the worst record in Europe. The Windies players will be at risk. It’s emphatically not a risk worth taking.

The matches are of no consequence. So the only beneficiaries of the games will be a TV audience and Sky who will flog advertising to advertisers. Much as I love cricket I don’t want to see the game polluted in this way. Professional sport without spectators is a nonsense

The Premier League is a global business and needs media and advertiser income to be viable. As with the cricket the idea is to play games in empty stadiums behind closed doors. But surely they can see that if you takes the spectators away you fundamentally change the character of the event. And also as with cricket safety cannot be guaranteed. Teams, coaches, officials – many hundreds of them – will be unnecessarily at risk for games that don’t matter.

The Grand Prix plan is similar. As with football and cricket the TV audiences can be guaranteed. But every Grand Prix requires hundreds of support staff who will inevitably be at risk however hard people work to resist it. Is it worth it ? Of course not.

The Proms plan to have a fortnight of big hall concerts played to an empty Albert Hall. Why ? Search me. You can’t really have a Promenade Concert without promenaders can you ?

These are troubling times for sport and the Arts. Both need ticket paying audiences to prosper, or even to survive. But these artificial pseudo events won’t help that. If 2020 is a washout – it’s looking that way – let’s take it in the chin and plan only to return when the fetid cloud storms have lifted.

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