I, like you probably reading this, was very cynical and sceptical about the idea of pumping in crowd noise for behind closed doors matches.
But bear with me because, in five minutes, I had changed my mind.
Here in the United States they have given viewers a choice of matches with or without added sound effects – just a TV experience rather than inside the stadium itself – and it really worked.
You had the option of watching Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich on two different channels and the one with the noise was so much better. It wasn’t even close.
I know it’s not authentic but the sound editor obviously understood the game. If there was a foul, there was an, ‘Ooooh’, it was louder or quieter depending if the home or away team was in possession and levels were raised as they got towards the 18-yard box.
It wasn’t over the top. It wasn’t the brash US sitcom canned laughter or pantomime jeering that you might be dreading. It was just background noise; a hum that covered over the echoes or clattered seat that kept reminding you there were no supporters.
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I had thought it would be going too far – I’m a traditionalist and I’m ready to jump on anything that doesn’t feel right – but this was the guide that we perhaps never really appreciated enough back when everything was normal.
If you go to the bathroom it’s the changing sound that makes you realise you’re missing something. It was subtle and sounded natural. Having switched on for a few minutes ready to laugh, I couldn’t go back. I’m converted – from sceptic to supporter.
I know the Premier League are looking at giving fans a similar option if and when the top flight and Championship return next month.
We’re in a different world. This football is just for people sitting at home and if you have broadcasters and sound experts who understand the flow of matches, can fit the action, then it’ll make this strange experience better.
As for the players, I think would have liked to have crowd noise coming through the Tannoy.
I played in behind-closed-doors matches that would be arranged if someone was coming back from injury or something – half an hour each way sometimes – and they always felt 75 or 80 per cent. It never felt full on.
There’s nothing like standing in the tunnel, wherever you are, and getting that nervous excitement when you can hear what’s out there.
Playing without that is like a sanitised version of football and although you’ll have heard plenty of players insist they are too focused to hear the crowd, that’s just specific songs, chants or shouts. Everyone hears the flow.
It’s the rising noise that can make one big tackle spark another, that piles pressure on defenders and encourages wingers to take on full-backs or strikers to shoot.
The return of normality can’t come soon enough but until then we should make this version of football and watchable as possible.