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Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin closes door on playing without fans

As the wrangle over how to conclude the Irish League season rumbles on after days of to-ing and fro-ing, Ballymena United captain Jim Ervin has given a firm 'no' to suggestions of playing behind closed doors.

While the Sky Blues skipper, who had been relishing the prospect of leading his team into an Irish Cup semi-final derby with Coleraine in front of a big crowd at The Oval, is as hungry for a return to action as anyone else, the thought of performing in front of empty stands doesn't excite him at all.

Indeed, Ervin believes part of what makes football what it is will be missing if fans can't be there to support their teams.

"We all want to get back to football, but we all want to get back in normal circumstances," says the experienced Ervin, who turned 35 last week.

"Personally, I don't want to go back to football behind closed doors because it takes everything away from it.

"As players, I think we all can't wait to get back to playing in front of the fans.

"Everybody is itching to get back. The Bundesliga has come back behind closed doors, but it's not the same.

"I think we've all watched it because it's something that we all love and it's live rather than watching recordings of old matches, but it's not the same. I've found it hard to watch because there is no atmosphere - it's like pre-season.

"It goes to show how much the atmosphere brings out in the game."

Belfast Telegraph