There are good bits and bad bits to shooting football during these tough Coronavirus times and in my book the bad bits far outweigh the good bits.
The good bits are all about making your job easier. It’s easier to get to the ground as there are not as many cars on the roads, you get a parking space allocated at the stadium as there are no VIP or hospitality guests and pitch side there is plenty of space to work in as only a handful of photographers are allowed in. Added to that the stadium wifi works perfectly as there are not thousands of fans blocking the airwaves, and if it rains you can de-camp to the empty grandstands and work in the dry. Finally, it is very easy getting away from the ground at the end of the game.
There is one downside that outweighs all of these positives - access to games. As mentioned above the number of photographers allowed into games has been reduced to between 8 to 10 rather than the usual 25 -30. It does not affect the big agencies as they will get in to any game they choose and will often take up 90% of the allocated spaces. Middle sized agencies are getting squeezed and smaller agencies stand very little chance of getting into Premier League games and some chance of Championship games. If you can’t get access to games there are no positives to be had at all. The irony of it is that there is now so much room inside stadiums that they could have double the usual number instead of one-third of it.
Between March and December 2020 I have photographed 20 games without crowds (mostly Championship). It is definitely not the same experience and frankly it is a sad shadow of the game with no atmosphere whatsoever. Photographers rooms are understandably shut and thus there are no facilities on offer. The absence of crowds also gives you no audible ‘alert’ that something is happening on the pitch, so if you are sending out images on your laptop the play can be moving quickly and an major attack/goal can leave you scrambling to get the celebration having missed the goal being scored - annoying !
Images themselves are less pleasing to the eye with backgrounds of empty stands rather than emotional raucous crowds giving a sense of occasion…..So, from this photographers standpoint the sooner we can get back to ‘normal’ the better.