MPs give guidance on impact on Premier League and fans return with new Government lockdown
The first Government lockdown saw much of the country come to a standstill back in March 2020.
Football was one small / significant part of that, depending on how you see it.
As well as lower leagues, the Premier League was suspended, with English top tier clubs having no matches for some 15 weeks.
In the case of Newcastle United, a 1-0 win at Southampton on 7 March 2020, was next followed by a 3-0 home victory over Sheffield United on Sunday 21 June 2020.
Yet another leak as we headed into this weekend, reports that a new Government lockdown is set to be announced imminently.
The Times once again broke the story, saying announcements were planned for Monday with more restrictive measures set to be brought back in on a national basis very quickly afterwards.
However, it could happen even earlier now, with reports of Number 10 being furious that details of the new Government lockdown have gone public, with an inquiry launched as to the source of the leak and the announcements likely to be brought forward to this weekend, now the cat is very much out of the bag.
So what impact will this have one football, if any?
An interesting swift update on the situation from The Athletic.
Following the revelation of the imminent new Government lockdown nationally, their journalists have spoken to ‘three well placed MPs’ and they have told them that there is no reason to believe that there will be any imminent changes to the Premier League.
They add that there is also confidence from Premier League sources that nothing is likely to change if / when this new national lockdown happens. With Wednesday reportedly the day when the Government plan to implement it.
The MPs pointing out that it is a very different scenario now for Premier League clubs compared to that initial Government lockdown in March. Clubs having the benefit of that experience and sophisticated testing arrangements in place now, with all Premier League players and connected club staff regularly tested. Even when there have been positive cases, the protocols then see them swiftly isolated and games allowed to go ahead as planned.
Plus of course, Premier League clubs now have the benefit of the experience of running matches at their stadiums, albeit behind closed doors.
So basically, no clear and obvious reason as to why the Government would consider stopping Premier League football.
It may of course not be the case across all leagues, as whilst the Premier League have more than enough cash to ensure rigid testing regimes and strict protocols on matchdays, maybe a different story for clubs in Leagues One and Two, plus potentially the Championship as well.
The Athletic quote one MP saying about how the new Government lockdown might potentially impact on the Premier League: ‘The virus doesn’t spread well in outdoor settings and the close contact time in sports like football is very short. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport seem keen to keep outdoor sport going at all levels.’
Of course, Premier League football is one thing, fans watching it inside stadiums is another.
A situation that looked bleak, now clearly has only got a whole lot worse.
The Athletic reporting feedback from MPs that no chance now of fans returning to Premier League stadiums until sometime in 2021 at the earliest.
Once an October return for fans to Premier League stadiums was blocked in September, the Government indicated that in general, we could expect more restrictive measures until at least March 2021, indicating that no supporters in football grounds would be part of that.
One MP telling The Athletic: ‘off the agenda until the new year at least’, when asked about PL fans returning to stadiums.
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