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Premier League official ‘Quickly scale up’ response to Government allowing fans return

5 months ago
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The Premier League have provided an official response to the Government announcing on Monday (23 November 2020) that fans are to be allowed back into stadiums.

Boris Johnson yesterday confirming that after the current set of restrictions end on Wednesday 2 December, limited numbers can return to both football stadiums and other sporting arenas.

However, the numbers are limited and also dependent on which tier your region will be placed in, hopefully as early as this Thursday we will find out which tier Newcastle Upon Tyne and every other city / region has been placed in.

If you are tier one then you are allowed up to 4,000 fans inside your stadium but it can’t be more than 50% of capacity, in tier two it is a 2,000 maximum and not more than 50% capacity, whilst in tier three fans will still be banned.

It is transparent that when it comes to football, with those kind of numbers involved, even if you are in a low risk tier one virus area, it is only of any tangible help to those clubs further down the scale – particularly Leagues One and Two and below. With finances desperate for so many small clubs, allowing up to 4,000 fans in would in many cases give a club the chance of having more or less a return to their usual matchday income.

For Premier League clubs of course, it is a drop in the ocean for most, Newcastle United for example are set to be allowed 2,000 fans for home games in December at the very most in a 52,000 capacity St James Park, and that is only if we escape being placed in tier three. It will be some time before there is any chance of tier one you’d imagine.

Indeed, back in September when it was still planned for fans to be allowed to be able to return to stadiums in October, Premier League clubs were looking at 20% to 30% of capacity as a bare minimum starting point to make it worthwhile, certainly financially.

So it is interesting to see the Premier League statement below, having to be very diplomatic.

If their instant official response had been to say this was a waste of time, due to the low numbers involved, it would have been a PR own goal for the Premier League.

So it is a case of them welcoming the news BUT their brief statement is littered with their real message…return of supporters for the first time since March, albeit at small numbers… increase attendance to more substantial levels...our clubs will continue to operate matches at a financial losscan help our clubs quickly scale up to larger capacities

Many Premier League clubs have already made clear that opening their stadium up to such low numbers as 4,000 or less, will actually cost them money due to extra operating costs and staffing etc.

So it will be interesting to see whether the Premier League clubs will actually allow fans into their stadiums in December, if they are in tier one or tier two areas.

It would be a massive PR own goal if any clubs don’t allow supporters in if they can do so, as it will be clear that it is a decision purely based on money. Deciding not to allow up to 4,000 of their fans to be able to watch their team play live for the first time in nine months.

Premier League Official Statement:

‘Fans have been greatly missed at Premier League matches and therefore we welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today regarding the return of supporters for the first time since March, albeit at small numbers.

Our ambition remains to work with Government to increase attendance to more substantial levels.

Until this can be done, many fans will be unable to attend games and our clubs will continue to operate matches at a financial loss.

Our priority continues to be the agreement of a roadmap, with DCMS and the Sports Technology and Innovation Group, for pilot events that can help our clubs quickly scale up to larger capacities in line with the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s COVID-secure guidelines and beyond.

Premier League clubs have a proven track record of achieving high-biosecurity standards and we believe we can play a significant role in the Government’s rapid turnaround testing initiative.

We look forward to working with Government on their next steps.’

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