Football UK

Government should make another U-turn to allow safe return of football fans


Who would have thought it? Turns out the regular match-going fan is important after all.

Forget about the dim, distant days when games were arranged for times that were convenient for television, whether here or abroad, rather than for the travelling, loyal supporter.

Forget about the times when match tickets were priced beyond the means of the average working class supporter.

Forget about being taken for granted while every broadcasting whim was indulged.

Forget about being taken for your money but not into consideration.

Even to the Premier League, it now seems fans are absolutely crucial.

And, of course, they are.

Test events have showed that fans can safely return to stadiums
Test events have showed that fans can safely return to stadiums

When a far-off era of normality returns, let’s hope club executives remember this.

For now, though, the pressure on the Government to allow fans back into football grounds has to be unrelenting.

There can be something a little tiresome about people pointing out the anomalies in Covid-19 restrictions.

Unless it is a total lockdown, those anomalies are unavoidable.

Why are only 15 people allowed at a wedding while 30 can attend a funeral? Etc, etc, etc.

But the contradictions that streak though the decision not to have any supporters in most football grounds are incomprehensibly stark.

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For Liverpool’s match against Arsenal on Monday night, Anfield, with a capacity to comfortably seat 53,394 people and a main stand rising high enough to give a panoramic view of the city, will be empty apart from the participants on the field and a scattering of staff, officials and media.

Yet the Government will allow more people in my local, a 17th century pub with a ventilation system belonging to that time.

Not only that, the kick-off has been brought forward to encourage more people to be in the local.

You could not make it up.

The Premier League delivered Project Restart without a hitch and their plans for a partial return of supporters are meticulous and ready to go.

And there is no reason that would not be likewise in the EFL.

Chelsea and Brighton's friendly last month was a big success
Chelsea and Brighton’s friendly last month was a big success

As far as I am aware, there were no problems reported from the pilot events that took place in the EFL last weekend.

Of course, you would not know of any ‘problems’ until those who attended the matches remain healthy but the ease with which social distancing measures can be enforced at a well-marshalled football stadium is considerable.

Easier than mine host trying to keep an eye on the half-cut bunch in the corner.

The Government will not be changing tack immediately, you can assume.

And in the meantime, the Premier League must surely come up with a new package of financial help for the rest of the game.

But it would be naive to think that Premier League clubs are not as concerned about their own financial health as they are about the broader picture.

Should fans be allowed back into stadiums? Have your say below.

It's time the government performed a U-turn to help get football back on its feet
It’s time the government performed a U-turn to help get football back on its feet


Yes, some have ownerships that can take considerable hits but some do not.

To safeguard jobs at their own clubs, some simply need fans back in the ground.

They are unlikely to sanction a lavish bailout payment to the EFL and the non-league game if their grounds are going to be empty for an entire season.

While the Government might not lift its restrictions on stadiums in the next few days, it is developing a penchant for U-turns.

We were all being herded back into the offices a few weeks ago, don’t forget.

And for the future of so many clubs up and down the land, it should make another one sooner rather than later.

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