The Referees’ Association has expressed its relief at the return of fans into football grounds, as its members can once again hear foul-mouthed insults being hurled at them. Limited numbers of fans have been allowed back into certain games under strictly controlled conditions, primarily in order to provide the match officials with instant feedback on their inept performances.
Fans had continued to express their dissatisfaction with the match officials throughout lockdown by shouting at the television, and in an effort to compensate for the lack of verbal attacks during games held behind closed doors, some clubs had installed cardboard cut-outs of fans making gestures towards the match officials. However, the atmosphere in the grounds fell a long way short of the cauldron of hatred that certain referees used to relish on a weekly basis.
‘Our members found the previous restrictions very difficult to cope with,’ admitted Wally Black from the Referees’ Association. ‘They really struggled to enjoy wrecking everyone’s enjoyment of the beautiful game through their appalling decisions without actually hearing the roars of disapproval from thousands of fans.’
And the supporters themselves have really missed going to grounds to make their ill-feelings heard and express their animosity alongside thousands of like-minded individuals. ‘Football is all about fans of all ages and backgrounds coming together as a community to enjoy the game,’ explained Chelsea fan Rob Edmondson. ‘It is so great to be back and to once more be able to enquire about the referees’ eyesight, parentage and proclivity for solo sex acts’, he added.