Photo credit: Nathan Loveridge

By George Cowell

Nottingham Forest will have the pleasure of playing in front of a reduced-capacity crowd when they take on high-flying Reading next week.

On Sunday, Nottingham Forest will once again feel the electric atmosphere of the crowds again, as they face Reading in the SkyBet Championship on Saturday.

Forest haven’t played in front of a crowd for over 260 days, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic when owner Evangelos Marinakis contracted the disease. New manager Chris Hughton’s side will be relishing the chance to play in front of crowds after such a long absence, albeit at a much-reduced capacity.

As Nottinghamshire is currently in Tier 3, the Reds won’t be able to welcome their fans back to the City Ground for the time being, but will look forward to trips to clubs in Tier 2 areas, including their fixture against fourth-placed Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.

Nottingham Forest will also hope the excitement will spur them on to a positive result, as they currently sit just above the relegation zone. A 0-0 draw at home to Watford ended a run of three defeats for Chris Hughton’s side, who’ve not seen the upturn in form they’d hoped since the former Brighton manager came in. Their poor start to this campaign has bled on from an abysmal end to last season, in which they narrowly lost out on playoff spots, despite impressing for much of the season under Sabri Lamouchi, who was sacked in October and now manages Al-Duhaili in Qatar.

Nottingham Forest season ticket holder Charley Ferris has stated his dismay at not being able to attend games this season, saying: “Being unable to attend games has been exhausting, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult enjoy the games”.

Charley also believes that the current form of Nottingham Forest is largely due to the lack of fan encouragement, explaining that has he become “apathetic in my support but I do believe that having fans will help turn our season around.

On some teams having crowds and others not, Forest fan and writer Lee Clarke said

“I don’t particularly like it to be honest. I agree with Hughton that it’s not really fair. That said, Reading isn’t typically noisy when it’s full so not sure 2000 fans will really have an impact. It’ll be a tough game there whether it’s behind-closed-doors or in front of their 2000.”