It’s been over half a year since english football stadiums have been filled, with fans eagerly waiting to return, however, the virus has seemed to once more postpone our elongated re entry, as cases begin to rise, putting everything up in the air.
Fans were being slowly allowed back under a month ago, over a series of trials matches, testing the waters, before reopening their doors for the season. This was seen in the UEFA Super Cup which had seen 20,000 fans in the stands, as well as a friendly between Chelsea and Brighton back in late august.
Clubs have since been losing millions every month, with EFL clubs expecting to lose a further £200 million if the season continues behind closed doors. The EFL had also released a petition to let fans back in, which was signed by over double the expected amount, acquiring over 200,000 signatures.
Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock, had spoken to the Yorkshire Post that he believes the situation is even affecting their fans mental health, saying how it’s “such a miserable, depressing outlook at the moment and the government need to look at that”. Exeter City manager Matt Taylor is in the same boat, as he said the team is “desperate for them to come back” to DevonLive.
There had been plans for stadiums to open on 1 October, but had been postponed due to Covid cases slowly climbing, yet Premier League Chief, Richard Masters said to BT sport that he is hopeful that “stadiums can reopen soon” after arguing the case that “the palladium was half full” for ex Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger’s book release.
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden attempted to clear up the confusion to MP’s on wednesday, explaining how having fans come back into stadiums “week in, week out” can be a risky move to make, with fans travelling “up and down the country”. The entire situation had come across as very confusing, but seemed to have helped reignited the fight for stadiums to reopen when seen as safe to do so.
Tier 3 is the main issue, as this means areas within this category would not be allowed to attend open stadiums, due to another possible outbreak. This would mean that as it stands, EFL title holders Liverpool, would not be allowed to have fans return to Anfield until their case numbers begin to drop. This new tier system could make the whole situation even more complicated than it already is, as if other cities follow suit, such as Manchester and London, this could throw a spanner in the works, making the future of fans returning seemingly very slim for the time being.
Words: Jack King