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Sean Dyche will be interested to see how fans react to returning to stadiums over the coming months but the Burnley boss suspects there will be an initial period of goodwill towards clubs, such is the “real thirst” for supporters to come back.
Providing the UK Government goes ahead with the next step of the planned easing of coronavirus restrictions on May 17, up to 10,000 spectators will be able to attend matches in the final two rounds of the Premier League campaign.
Dyche has welcomed the prospect and, with league chiefs speaking openly about the ambition for grounds to operate at full capacity next season, the Clarets managers will be a keen observer at how supporters will react to being back.
“At certain grounds and certain situations: managers, teams and players, as the season progresses there can be a negativity if a team or players are not doing well,” Dyche said.
“I’ll be intrigued to know if that gets over-ridden for a while, where fans are just so delighted to be watching their team, they might find that energy, love and positivity for it all and think ‘I’m just happy to be back’.
“I don’t know how long that will last because it’s a very fickle industry that we’re in. There’s a real thirst for fans to be back in stadiums so that will be interesting how they respond to it, literally.”
If the next steps of easing restrictions get given the green light, Burnley can open their gates to some fans for the first time since March last year when they welcome Liverpool on May 19 – their final home game of the season.
“Fans in theory, if it all goes well, can come back into stadiums and hopefully we’ll be in a position to unfortunately write the year off and move forward,” Dyche said.
“It’s been a tough year for everyone and now it’s about ‘can we come out of it and move forward?’ To see football fans in a ground in my world and the football world be a really good sign of things getting back to normal.”
Burnley are on the brink of safety and would secure their top-flight status with a victory on Monday night at relegation-threatened Fulham, who sit nine points behind Dyche’s side with four games of the season remaining.
Dyche, who revealed Chris Wood will be available for the trip to Craven Cottage after a dead leg forced the striker off in Monday’s defeat against West Ham, insisted their mindset is not shaped by what is on the line for his team.
“The mentality is to try and win every game,” he added. “No matter what team we’ve put out, we always go out with the intention of winning and the next one comes around with Fulham.
“Our job is to play well ourselves, that’s what we focus on. Fulham have had a topsy-turvy season, it’s not easy finding your way.
“Getting on the right side of those big moments when you need them is one of the keys, that’s their challenge. We’ve got our own challenge which is to win the next game.”