The Premier League has been working towards allowing fans back to stadiums on October 3rd. While it’ll initially be at a limited capacity, getting the fans back will make a massive difference.
That plan, however, came under threat last week when an uptick in coronavirus cases in the UK gave Prime Minister Boris Johnson some pause with the idea. He didn’t completely extinguish the notion of fans returning but said the plans needs revising.
“We must revise plans to pilot larger audiences in stadiums & review our intention to return audiences to stadiums from the 1st October.
“That doesn’t mean we’re going to scrap the program entirely. It just means we are going to review and abridge it.
“Organized sport will still be able to proceed.”
On the other hand, the Premier League is fully committed to getting fans to the stands as soon as possible. In response to Johnson’s statement, the league said that for a variety of reasons it was the number one priority to get fans back as quickly as possible.
On Sunday, Newcastle announced that they are setting plans in place for the return of supporters to St James Park. They have met with fan groups to discuss the details.
? Detailed plans are being put in place to make an eventual return for fans to St. James' Park as safe as possible.
We held an online meeting with a group of supporters this week to discuss this vital work. #NUFC
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) September 13, 2020
The Chronicle is reporting that while some pilot cases of supporters attending games have been scrapped, there is still support in the government for their return next month.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has written a letter to another MP, Tracey Couch, after she raised concerns some National League clubs could go under if fans aren’t’ allowed to attend games soon.
Here is what Huddleston wrote:
“The government wants to see spectators back at sports events as soon and as safely as possible.
“We have made important progress in staging a series of pilot and test events across different sports with more to follow.
“The pilot programme will continue throughout September, restricted to a maximum capacity of 1,000 people.
“The success of these events will be reviewed ahead of the current date of October 1 for reopening for socially distanced spectators under covid-secure conditions more widely if public health conditions permit.
“The events have been selected to test a range of different event styles across the country’s major men’s and women’s sports.
“A number of successful pilots have already been completed, including snooker at the Crucible, cricket at Edgbaston and football at Brighton and Hove Albion.
“I know how important this is for sports clubs for whom paying spectators are vital. That is why we amended guidance to provide extra clarification for organisers of non-elite sport events to help them manage and admit spectators safely, adhering to social distancing.
“As stated in my previous response, it is up to the respective governing bodies to determine what constitutes the boundary between elite and non-elite within their sports.
“In football’s case, the FA’s definition means that only leagues below National League north and south can continue with spectators.
“However, subject to the successful staging of the pilot programme and the wider public health conditions, we hope to reopen elite sports fixtures including the National League for socially distanced spectators under covid-secure conditions from October 1.
“We continue to work closely with a whole range of sports to understand the latest thinking that may allow increased numbers of spectators to return.
“This includes the creation of a new Sports Technology Innovation Working Group of sporting bodies and health experts to analyse new technologies which might support this.”