This was the eerie scene at Newcastle United when millions should have been watching the club's FA Cup tie

St James’s Park, 7pm last night. An illuminated sign at the south west corner of the stadium flickered on and off as customers, some wearing surgical masks, trickled into the supermarket on the other side Barrack Road.

Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 12:58 pm

The ground, however, should have been lit up as the last few fans filed through the turnstiles for an FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester City, the defending champions.

The tie was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. These are extraordinary times, and what is happening is without precedent.

Things have moved quickly, very quickly, since Newcastle United last took to the field.

A deserted St James's Park yesterday.

A fortnight earlier, fans were heading home from the St Mary’s Stadium, where a goal from Allan Saint-Maximin had given the club a 1-0 win over Southampton.

The trains back into London that night were busy and noisy, filled with jubilant supporters.

St James’s Park was silent and empty on a crisp, clear Tyneside night. There were cars on the roads, but the streets around the stadium were almost deserted.

The Strawberry pub, in the shadow of the Gallowgate End, was closed along with every other watering hole in a city famous for its nightlife.

A deserted St James's Park yesterday.

A cyclist delivering flew past the club shop, closed for business, as the scheduled kick-off time approached. Another left a nearby block of student flats. The stadium car parks, full to bursting on matchdays, were all but empty. A Newcastle United Foundation minibus was parked up in the TV village, where the broadcasters normally park up their lorries.

The cup tie had been set for a worldwide audience, but football isn’t a worldwide concern right now.

It’ll be back, hopefully sooner rather than later, but there’s so much to be done before then to bring the coronavirus, which is taking lives and decimating economies across the world, under control.

That could take some time. The Premier League season, suspended last week, may yet get finished – and this quarter-final may get played – but, equally, we might not see another game for many months.

A deserted St James's Park yesterday.

Is Newcastle’s name on the cup this season? We may never find out.