Why Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates haven't missed their fans

21:54 EAT 29/12/2021
Kaizer Chiefs fans at the Soweto Derby match
While many leagues worldwide are allowing fans to attend matches, the PSL continues to enforce a no spectator policy due to the Covid-19 pandemic

The absence of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates supporters at stadiums has not made a difference to the fortunes of the Soweto giants, it can be argued.

Looking in from the outside, one might think that the absence of fans from South Africa's two most popular teams would affect their form adversely.

But when considering the current state of the two footballing giants, this may not the case. In fact, with both teams struggling to find their form in recent years, some players may actually find it easier playing in front of empty seats, rather than angry, frustrated and unhappy fans.

Of course, when things are going well, a full stadium can help a side take it to the next level and for players to scale even greater heights.

It was however noticeable for the past couple of seasons, before fans were barred, that attendance numbers for Chiefs fans supporting home matches at FNB Stadium were on the wane. Often only around 2000 people were turning up in the 95 000 capacity venue.

It's surely fair to say that we are currently in an unprecedented time for South African football in that both Chiefs and Pirates have for an extended period slipped down the pecking order - since 2015, the sum total of trophies won by the Soweto giants is one (when the Buccaneers triumphed in last season's MTN8).

In this period, both clubs have chopped and changed their coaches and have probably not done as well in the transfer window as they should have. Nor have they produced enough stars from their development ranks, although Chiefs at least have improved in that department - seemingly however partly due to the transfer ban.

There has overall been the feeling that the Soweto giants have been drifting along without enough purpose, and that some kind of shake-up is needed for a change of fortunes to occur.

When young players or new signings find themselves in such an environment, the added pressure of having unhappy supporters on one's back at the stadium, can make it very difficult for some players to perform. Not to mention some of the older players who have at times been used as scapegoats by frustrated supporters.

They may not admit it, but the current environment might well suit quite a few of the Chiefs and Pirates players.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

There are however some positive signs coming out of both camps and there's been an improvement in results.

There's still room for improvement and consistency, but there does seem to be enough quality within the respective squads, and both sides now seem more settled under their respective coaches.

Should the stadium ban be ended in the upcoming months, and provided Chiefs and Pirates continue to keep the results going their way, there is always the potential for supporters to actually help the club back up to the top.

But that’s some way off and for now, in what could be seen as a rebuilding phase, the absence of fans is neither here nor there for the country’s two most-supported teams.