The threat of a European Super League breakaway has united the football community, prompting furious outcry from club fans.
Supporters are currently forbidden to enter into football grounds, for most of them for over a year.
Never before has the evidence of the importance of fans been highlighted greater.
Stoke City have not been able to welcome fans into the Bet365 Stadium since 23,000 fans watched the 5-1 over Hull City in March 2020.
However, with vaccine rollout and government roadmap so far making good progress, we could see a return of up to 10,000 spectators back into sports venues by the middle of May.
Laurence Allen, administrator of the the Stoke City Southern Supporters, said he relishes the return.
“I think every Stoke fan would tell you the fans very much make our team, when we were in the Premier League,” he told Sport in Staffs.
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“The 12th man was massive for us in just staying in the division and developing.
“So, the chance to get back is absolutely huge for Stoke, they are needed for our development, we are mid table which is probably seen as development from the last two seasons.
“This is not where we want to be, which is fighting for promotion, with the fans back we can be pushing for those play-offs.”
Watching Stoke at home ‘not the same’
Laurence explained that while he has enjoyed being able to watch all of Stoke’s games on the television, it does not replace the game-day experience.
He said: “For me personally having the EFL put on games just so we can access it is fantastic.
“I have purchased every game this year including cup matches and it has been nice to be able to watch.
“I feel like I am a lot more in-sync with the players but it is just not the same not being able to connect with the players, we are not there to cheer them on and be the 12th man.
“It has been hugely frustrating just because I love the whole matchday experience and being at the games to cheer on the boys.”
The Potters will hope to have the fans back for the 2021/22 season in their fourth attempt try to climb back up to the Premier League since their relegation in 2018.
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