The paper reports that a meeting of the government’s Cobra committee on Thursday lunchtime, chaired by Boris Johnson is expected to move its response to the pandemic from the “contain” phase to the “delay” phase. That in turn means that football will be heavily affected with a ban on supporters.
Already Champions League and Europa League matches have imposed similar sanctions, with last night’s PSG v Dortmund game played in an empty stadium, while Serie A have announced a suspension.
Manchester City’s clash against Arsenal on Wednesday night became the first top-flight fixture to fall victim due to fears surrounding coronavirus after there were fears Arsenal players may have contracted the virus after being in contact with the Olympiacos owner during the Europa League game last month.
The action plan could be put into place once the number of UK coronavirus cases passes 500. Last night it stood at 460.
The action-plan will include matches in the Premier League and lower divisions moved behind closed doors; games will not be postponed.
The report claims Premier League ticket holders will be able to stream coverage of matches, while supporters of clubs in the Football League would be able to watch on iFollow.
Pubs will not be allowed to show games and the ban on showing Premier League fixtures live in the Saturday 3pm slot will remain.
Broadcasters will also be allowed to screen more than one Premier League game during both the lunchtime and tea-time television slots on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
Trump shuts down America in response to Coronavirus
The expected shift in UK policy came as Donald Trump dramatically escalated the US response to the coronavirus pandemic, slapping a travel ban on continental Europe.
The suspension of travel between the United States and Europe – excluding the UK and Ireland – will last for 30 days starting on Friday.
Mr Trump made the announcement in an Oval Office address to the nation, blaming the European Union for not acting quickly enough to address the outbreak of the virus and saying US clusters were “seeded” by European travellers.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak played down the prospect of the UK imposing similar travel restrictions, but acknowledged the US decision could have a knock-on effect on the British economy.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “With regard to flight bans, we are always guided by the science as we make our decisions here, and the advice we are getting is that there isn’t the evidence that interventions like closing borders or travel bans are going to have a material effect on the spread of the infection.”