Burnley defender Matt Lowton hopes to avoid return to empty stadiums

Clarets right back Matt Lowton hopes the Premier League season won't be played to a finish behind closed doors.

Matt Lowton at an empty Villa Park last season
Matt Lowton at an empty Villa Park last season

Half the weekend's top-flight games have been postponed due to COVID outbreaks, with more than 50% of the EFL fixture list called off.

Burnley' s game at home to Watford was forced off two and a half hours before kick-off due to a number of cases within the Hornets' squad, and there is a fear that the game is heading towards the same outcome as in March 2020, when football was put on hold for three months, before returning from June to August to complete the campaign, without fans.

Last season was also predominantly played without supporters, and Lowton said, ahead of his return to former club Aston Villa, when asked if he hoped games could continue to be held with full stadiums: "Preferably.

"It wasn't great when the fans weren't there - it was still nice to play, rather than be sat at home like a lot of people were, but if we could keep the fans in the ground, it's obviously a million times better when they are there, for the players and the fan themselves.

"I don't know if it's going to come to that again or not, but we can only do what we have to do, we've got to be professional and make sure we're ready to play."

Burnley played out a goal-less draw at an empty Villa Park last December, and Lowton added: "It was strange, all the grounds were the same, you can't really prepare for how it is, it feels very bizarre to be playing Premier League football with no people there.

"It feels like a friendly, but even then you'd have a couple of thousand there, so it's strange.

"We'd like it not to go back to that, but if it has to there's nothing we can do about that."

Lowton spent three years at Villa, after a £3m move from Sheffield United, impressing sufficiently in his first season to earn a new four-year contract.

However, after 82 appearances and two goals - one a famous volley at Stoke - he was on his way to Burnley, just relegated back to the Championship.

He looked back on his time at Villa, and that sensational strike at the Britannia Stadium, when he controlled the ball on his chest and connected perfectly from 30 yards - a key goal in Villa's survival battle that season: "That ranks pretty high, I can remember that vividly, it gets brought up a lot, within family and friends.

"I enjoyed all my time at Villa, as soon as I walked in.

"It didn't quite work out in the end, but I've nothing but fond memories of playing there.

"They gave me my chance in the Premier League and I had days like Stoke away, so I really enjoyed it.

"We had a lot of young lads coming through, the manager gave me my chance, so I have nothing but respect for him, but I don't know why it didn't work out in the end.

"A lot of the lads went on to different clubs, but it would have been good if we could have kept the team together and pushed on.

"For whatever reason, it didn't work out."

And while he hopes for a result on Saturday, he is pleased to see Villa looking in better shape these days: "It's a huge club, you can see that with the history they've got, the fanbase, the team they've assembled now.

"Everyone on the outside is happy that a team like that is back where it belongs and I'm sure they'll carry on pushing up the table with the manager and team they've got."