Object of the Week: A programme during a pandemic Calendar

17 Sep 2020


It’s been surreal – stadiums without any fans in them.  When football resumed during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic games were played behind closed doors. The museum acquired a match programme from one of the first games. Head of Collections Wiebke Cullen takes a closer look at this unique matchday magazine.

What is significant about this programme?

This is the match programme from Norwich City v Southampton which took place on 19 June 2020. The match was played behind closed doors and was the first game back for both teams after the 2019-20 season stopped due to the pandemic.

Not many clubs produced programmes for games behind closed doors, but this one has a bold design and makes a strong reference to the Black Lives Matter campaign. It also refers to NHS workers during the pandemic.

Why is it important to collect items from the present day?

We feel that our contemporary collecting is very important, especially as football plays a significant part of English popular culture.

The voronavirus pandemic of 2020 has changed society and the way we live in lots of ways. Furthermore, the Black Lives Matter movement and its fight for equality has influenced and changed people’s perceptions.

As a museum we want our collection to tell stories about people’s experiences during this time, whether they are fans, players, officials or anyone involved with the game in any way. Objects and stories in our collection are saved for posterity so we can tell future generations about the impact of 2020 and the changes it brought to football.

How did the museum acquire the programme?

The museum’s content team are actively collecting objects around football’s response to Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter campaign. We made call outs to several clubs and organisations asking if they had anything to contribute to our contemporary collecting programme. Norwich City FC kindly donated the programme to the collection.

How many were produced?

We don’t know the exact number of the print run, but many clubs didn’t produce programmes at all and fans were not in the stadium to watch the game but had to watch on TV at home. So we assume that a smaller number would have been produced than for usual games.

Some clubs did offer a short-term subscriptions enabling fans to receive their matchday magazine in the post.

Do you think programmes from behind-closed-doors games will be sought after in future years?

Programmes from these matches will provide a glimpse into football during the coronavirus pandemic so there will be interest from future generations to find out about the situation through the lens of football. We think there will be future interest from researchers and the general public to learn more.

Is the programme on display?

The programme went on display for the museum’s reopening at the end of July. It is currently displayed in our Match Gallery on the first floor next to our ‘First 11 Milestones’ objects so is among the first things visitors see when they go into our permanent galleries.