Etheridge OK to play at empty stadium when football resumes
Filipino international goalkeeper Neil Etheridge relishes playing in front of 30,000 fans in Cardiff City FC’s home stadium in Wales.
But Etheridge certainly doesn’t mind having fans locked out of the stadium for safety reasons when England’s second-tier competition, the English Championship, resumes after the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is controlled.
Like majority of the leagues in the world, England’s football competitions have also been suspended after the government imposed a lockdown until May 7.
In an open letter to fans, English Football League chair Rick Parry said that games will be played without fans when the competitions resume, meaning hundreds of thousands of season-ticket holders and match-going supporters face missing out on a large chunk of the remaining season.
“I understand that its going to be terrible for the supporters and for us players, it’s not the same atmosphere as we are used to,” said Etheridge.
“For me, as a player, my views are slightly conflicted. Playing in front of people is always going to be a part of professional football which is fantastic. At the moment, it is a must to finish the season and if playing in closed stadium is the way we can move forward then I’m happy to do that.”
After playing a vital role in its promotion, Etheridge was player of the year for Cardiff last season when the Bluebirds were in the top flight English Premier League.
Cardiff got relegated back to the championship after finishing 18th out of 20 clubs in the EPL. A recent hamstring injury has seen the Filipino shotstopper playing behind Alex Smithies.
Cardiff City is running ninth, just three points off a promotion playoff spot when the Championship was stopped last month.
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