PM gives green light for fans to return to stadiums

Date published: Friday 17th July 2020 11:33

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says crowds could return to sports stadiums in the United Kingdom from October, subject to successful pilot events.

Football, along with other sporting events, has taken place without crowds in attendance since March when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The Premier League and Championship were halted for three months, while the country attempted to a get a grip on the Covid-19 outbreak.

The top two divisions did return last month, but behind closed doors. While the conclusion of the Champions League and Europa League will begin next month, but again, without spectators.

“We will pilot larger gatherings in venues like sports stadiums with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn,” said Johnson on Friday.

“From October we intend to bring back audiences in stadia … in a Covid secure way subject to the successful outcome of pilots,” said the PM at a briefing on Friday.

The current Premier League season concludes on July 26 and the 2020/21 campaign is scheduled to start in the second week of August.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has previously said top-flight clubs are keen to act as “test pilots” for any experiments around a phased reopening of stadiums.

He has said that football will not be “back with a capital B” until crowds return.

Depending on how many fans are allowed back, it could be a major boost to the finances of clubs in the English Football League who rely heavily on matchday revenue.

A statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the test events were taking place in order “to build up to and prepare for the full, socially distanced return of sporting events from October 1, 2020”.

 

 

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: “For months, millions of us have felt the void of being unable to go to the match to support our team or attend a top-class sporting event. So I am pleased that we are now able to move forward with a plan to help venues safely reopen their doors to fans.

“I recognise that not every sport, team or club has the benefit of huge commercial revenue, and it is often their dedicated fans that are the lifeblood which helps keep them going. By working closely with sports and medical experts, these pilots will help ensure the safe return of fans to stadia.

“Although it will remain some time before venues are full to capacity, this is a major step in the right direction for the resumption of live spectator sport across the country.”

Additionally, bowling alleys, casinos, beauty salons and skating rinks will all be allowed to reopen from August 1, with wedding receptions of up to 30 people also allowed.

However, nightclubs and soft-play areas will remain closed.

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