West Ham legend worried about impact of playing without fans

West Ham legend worried about impact of playing without fans

A former England international has claimed that playing games behind closed doors could cause some shock results in the Premier League.

Alvin Martin enjoyed an illustrious career with West Ham United, playing nearly 600 games for the club in all competitions.

The 61-year-old, who has since gone on to forge a successful career in the media, believes that current top flight players may find it difficult to adjust over the next few weeks.

“To go from playing in a full stadium to playing behind closed doors is eerie,” Martin said. “The atmosphere that you’re reliant on isn’t there and you can’t feed off the energy of the crowd.”

According to research by Betway Football, more than 14.5 million people attended Premier League matches during the 2018/19 campaign.

Martin’s former club are one of the best supported in England, with their 58,336 average attendance the fourth highest in the top flight.

The Hammers regularly used to pack out Upton Park during Martin’s career – a factor he says makes a real difference to a player’s performance.

“At West Ham, the fans created an atmosphere that was up there with the very, very best,” he added.

“They are the ones that you play for. When they turn up at a game, they set the stage for you.

“They enhance the feeling of the game and the worth of it. You know that if you’re playing in front of 30 or 40,000 people then you’re doing something important.”

Under normal circumstances nearly half of the games in the Premier League are won by the home team, but that may not be the case over the coming weeks.

The Bundesliga has seen a significant drop in the number of home wins recorded since its season resumed and Martin feels that the same could happen in England.

“Those big atmospheres help give you an extra five or 10 percent that you can’t replicate in training,” he said.

“They make you nervous, which I think is a very healthy thing for a sports person. When you’re nervous, that’s when you perform your best.

“If you go in for a tackle and there’s a crowd roaring for you and willing you to win it, I think inevitably it puts a little bit more onto you.

“Similarly, when the crowd produce that enormous roar when a goal goes in, it gives you a lift.”

West Ham will get a chance to disprove Martin’s theory and boost their hopes of avoiding relegation when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.