BY ANDREW McSTEEN
Fans of the Premier League finally received some positive news when it was announced recently that the English top-flight football was provisionally planned to return on June 17 after being shut down due to COVID-19.
The remaining 92 games will all be played behind closed doors, without fans, due to governmental guidance, and the new, proposed, matchday protocols sent to clubs earlier this week outlined a maximum of 300 people that will be allowed inside each stadium – a number which includes players, management staff, television staff and officials, amongst others.
Despite the absence of supporters in person, Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson is well aware of the great backing his squad has at all times, no matter what the circumstances.
“Even though we can’t see them, even though we don’t have the benefit of their, sometimes, raucous and vociferous support, we know that that their support is there,” said Croydon-born Hodgson.
“It’s going to be hard for the fans though, because they can’t physically support us until such time as when they are let back in the stadium, but we know that support is just waiting to be tapped into again when they’re allowed back and it’s good to know that they are there.
“We don’t take our fans in any way for granted,” he added. “The support we have both home and away is quite incredible really – it’s the lifeblood of the club, there is no question of that.
“The time will come when all of this will be a memory, but no-one can predict at the moment when that time is actually going to be – it’s been a difficult time for everyone to live through.”
When Palace get back to league action, they will be looking to push on from 11th place and 39 points in their nine remaining games in the league, starting with a trip to relegation-threatened Bournemouth.
That match is likely to be on June 20 and is set to be the first-ever Premier League match live on the BBC. Hodgson is in no doubt that his squad will be ready to put on the best show for the SE25 faithful – with more to come.
“We are certainly very conscious that every time we take the field and the players put on their Crystal Palace shirt, they’re doing it for a fanbase which is really deserving,” said Hodgson. “I can only assure them that that’s going to continue to be the case and to thank them for the support they have given us during the three years I have been at the club and I know it goes back a lot deeper than that for many of them.
“I hope that we can find some way during this strange time, to still find some way of transmitting that support and that love for the club that they have, because we are so much aware of it.
“Football fans, especially Crystal Palace fans, are going to be missing their club, missing their matches, but the time will come when it is a memory and they will be back on the terraces again.
“We’ve got to make certain as a football club that when that day comes, we’ve kept our end up and we’re still working to try and consistently and continually improve, so that the product that we’re offering gets better and better.”
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