Stewart Cotterill Provides Expert Comment on Return of the Premier League

Last week, Head of the School of Psychology, Sport and Physical Activity at AECC University College, Professor Stewart Cotterill, was approached by BBC commentator, Kris Temple, to share his thoughts on an upcoming milestone in football.

On 17 June, the Premier League will return once again, although all matches will be played behind closed doors without a crowd.  Stewart was asked to offer his expert opinion on what challenges this new way of playing the beautiful game would bring footballers.

Stewart talks about the impact of losing the usual interaction with the crowd, the physical risks that players might be under, and the very real risk of burnout. He says:

“Not having the high levels of emotion and arousal that you normally get from interaction with the crowd, that instant feedback that you get, will impact on the readiness state and the psychological state of the players. I think it could be really difficult.

“There is an increased physical risk too. Lots of people are talking about it and obviously we’ve seen injuries in the Bundesliga, so that’s in the back of people’s minds. When you start thinking that there’s an increased risk of injury, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You don’t consciously do it, but your behaviours change slightly, so maybe you don’t go into a challenge quite as hard as you would before because you’re trying to protect yourself.

“There is also the practical risk of burnout because this is going to be psychologically draining for players. You’ve got a finite ability to cope with ‘stuff’ and the last two or three months will have reduced how much people can cope with. Players will have a harder time now.

“There could therefore be a risk of physical injury due to behavioural changes, because of some of the things that are going on in players’ minds.”

You can hear more from Stewart about the challenges facing footballers in the full interview here