The lack of fans has hurt many clubs. From May 17, fans are finally allowed to see the clubs they love to watch. This includes in League One for the play-off semi-finals, with fans returning to the Stadium of Light in the hope they can help Sunderland win promotion.
Returning Fans Can Help Sunderland Win Promotion Back to the Championship
Fans Can be 12th Man Despite Reduced Numbers
Although the attendance will be significantly reduced, it is a step in the right direction. As we have seen many times, fans can have a huge effect not only on their own team but also on the opposition. Many clubs have found it difficult these past 14 months playing in empty stadiums, especially teams playing at home. It’s little wonder that away teams have enjoyed playing up and down the country more this season.
Sunderland, having finished outside of the automatic promotion places, face a two-legged tie against Lincoln City for the chance to play in the play-off final at Wembley. Lincoln will have their fans in attendance on Wednesday for the first game, with 3,145 set to be in attendance. The return game will see Sunderland backed by 10,000 of their fans, with thousands more cheering on from their living rooms after missing out on a ticket.
With the roar of their fans behind them and the influence they can have on their own team and the opposition, Sunderland’s red and white army could be the 12th man the Black Cats as they look to book a place at Wembley
Tickets Sold Out but Thousands Miss Out
To ensure that fans would see their team in the safest of surroundings, 10,000 of the Stadium of Light’s near 50,000 capacity were released for sale. These tickets quickly sold out, with many fans left disappointed.
Even with the stadium well below capacity, for those able to attend and for the players and staff, it will be a huge deal. The noise generated will make it feel like it’s a full house following months of silence from the stands.
Sunderland Head Coach Lee Johnson is excited by the prospect of playing in front of Sunderland’s loyal and loud supporters. Speaking shortly after the announcement was made that supporters could return, Johnson said: “That could be absolutely huge and to be honest it’s the thing that probably excites me most about the play-offs, having that buzz again.
“I think I’d literally cry if someone said that we can’t have fans in for the play-offs. The fanbase here something that was a big part of my decision to come to the football club.”
Second Wembley Appearance Could See Sunderland Win Promotion if They Beat Lincoln
Sunderland have already visited Wembley this season. They defeated Tranmere Rovers in the EFL Cup Final in March, winning 1-0. It was their first victory at Wembley since 1973, and should they get by Lincoln City they will visit the national stadium once again to face either Blackpool or Oxford United.
Like the semi-finals, fans will be in attendance, but once again Wembley will only be allowed to host the game at a reduced capacity. Even so, expect supporters from Wearside, should they reach the final, to sell out whatever allocation they receive and be in full voice to help Sunderland win promotion back to the Championship.
Embed from Getty Images