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Coronavirus reported contingency plans make little sense for remainder of Premier League season

2 years ago

Coronavirus is of course the big topic of conversation at the moment, every news report leading with some new angle/update.

Little surprise then that the Premier League and football in general are also part of this debate.

The first visible signs of this have of course been Premier League players told not to shake hands before, during and after matches.

Now there is a meeting set to be held on Monday (see below) between government officials and sporting authorities, including the Premier League, to discuss potential contingency plans that may be put in place to try and combat the spread of the virus.

This is said to include the possibility of Premier League games being played behind closed doors, as part of a strategy to limit large gatherings of people.

Obviously we all want to see the impact of the Coronavirus to be kept as limited as possible in the UK and overseas.

However, I do fail to see how something like playing PL matches in empty stadiums is any kind of a great tactic, unless it is part of a much wider all consuming strategy to tackle the Coronavirus.

I think to be honest it sounds like a move that would be more about being seen to be doing something, with football having such a massive profile and the fact it would attract so many headlines, rather than actually thinking it would have any great impact overall.

If say you played next Saturday’s game at St James Park behind closed doors, what would be achieved? You would prevent 50,000 people gathering at an outside venue but what about everything else that is happening in people’s lives?

Yes you might put off 3,000 Sheffield United fans off travelling, as well as Newcastle fans, but what about the 10,000 or so music fans set to see The Script on Saturday night in an inside venue.

What about the tens of thousands of people in the city’s packed bars and restaurants?

What about the thousands of people who visit Tyneside every week from all parts of the UK and beyond?

It has been suggested that if PL matches were played to empty stadiums, all games would then be shown on live TV, leading to even more packed bars indoors, which surely if far worse than an open air venue.

This is before of course you get to the far bigger picture.

What impact would closing stadiums to fans have, if for example you allow all the airports to operate as normal? Millions of people going in and out of the UK travelling in such confined spaces and coming together inside airports for hours at a time.

Unless drastic measures are taken, such as seriously limiting everybody travelling, then not allowing people to gather together in football stadiums just sounds like tokenism.

Sky News report:

‘Major sporting events including Premier League football matches could be played in empty stadiums as the Coronavirus outbreak spreads.

Sports authorities and broadcasters have been summoned by the government to Monday’s meeting, to discuss contingency plans in case the virus spreads further.

The Premier League is prepared for the possibility that Public Health England will advise that some fixtures this season will have to be played behind closed doors, as has been the case in other European leagues like Italy and Morocco.

It is understood that the preference in the case of advice that the season be postponed, or played behind closed doors, would be that it continues without fans permitted inside stadiums.

The league is also considering other possible contingency plans that may include advising against, or even a possible ban, on over-70s, the demographic considered to be at highest risk from the spread of COVID-19, from coming inside stadiums.’


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