Ryan Yates believes that not having fans at the City Ground has been a “big disadvantage” for Nottingham Forest this season.
The 2020/21 campaign has been played behind-closed-doors, with fans being unable to attend stadiums due to COVID regulations throughout the pandemic.
The last time Forest played in front of a full City Ground crowd was in a 3-0 defeat to Millwall in March 2020. Since then, they have seen their play-off hopes be crushed on the final day of last season, and have changed managers with Chris Hughton replacing Sabri Lamouchi in October.
It has been a mixed season for the Reds, who have made steady improvements under Hughton without really setting the world alight and without really making huge strides up the Championship table.
On Wednesday night, they snatched a point in a 1-1 draw with Birmingham City at St. Andrew’s, with Lewis Grabban netting from the penalty spot in the 98th minute.
On any normal day, St. Andrew’s would have been full and a vociferous home crowd would have been urging their team on by any means possible – something Yates has experienced before.
Speaking to Football League World about the lack of fans, the midfielder said: “You know what, I think we’re kind of used to it by now.
“Going to St. Andrew’s on Wednesday night was so strange. I remember the last time we went there and it was so hostile. You were getting called all sorts before the game had even kicked off.
“Obviously the City Ground is just a massive detriment to us. We’ve got the best fans in the league, and when we don’t have that at home, it’s a big disadvantage to us.
“The sooner the fans return, the better.”
Forest will be hoping to return to winning ways tomorrow against the team who ruined their play-off dreams last season – Stoke City.
The Reds are winless in their last three games, and have won only one of their last five games on home soil.