Government will take the ‘earliest opportunity’ to consider the return of football fans to stadiums after putting the brakes on October plan… but there is STILL no timeframe for discussions as clubs continue to bleed cash
- The Government backtracked on plans to allow football fans to return this month
- Cases of Covid-19 have risen and there are now new restrictions around the UK
- DCMS insist the the return of fans to stadiums must ‘clearly be done carefully’
There is still no timeframe in place for the return of fans to stadiums, though the government insist they will take the ‘earliest opportunity’ to revisit it.
Plans to allow supporters back into grounds at the start of the month were shelved due to increased cases of Covid-19, which has caused sport to be played behind closed doors since the lockdown in March.
Clubs across English football have been desperate to get fans back as they continue to bleed cash due to the lack of matchday revenue.
There is still no timeframe in place for the safe return of football fans to stadiums
And the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport says that the time is still not right for the issue to be put back on the table, with tiered social restrictions in place for millions of people across the country.
In response to the #LetFansIn petition, which has garnered support from the Premier League and Football League, the DCMS said on Thursday morning: ‘We will take the earliest opportunity to look again at getting spectators safely back into stadia but this must clearly be done carefully against the prevailing health conditions.
‘The government is fully aware of the importance of getting spectators back and the financial consequences not to allow this from October 1.
‘The evidence received from the CMO (Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty) was very clear, at a time of rapidly rising infections. It was not the right time to undertake easements.’
The government shelved plans to bring fans back into stadiums at the start of the month
Supporters have been locked out of stadiums since the coronavirus lockdown in March
‘We will continue to work closely with a whole range of sports.
‘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.’
The government was tasked with formally responding to the petition after it passed 100,000 signatures. A debate is set to take place on November 9 in Westminster Hall with a member of the DCMS in attendance.
Last week Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden accepted there is a growing sense of frustration at the ban on live crowds at sporting events, but insisted there can be no change until the spread of coronavirus is curbed.
Dowden was asked by Conservative MP Steve Brine about the fact that some indoor performances, including a speaking event with former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger at the London Palladium, have been allowed to take place with socially-distanced crowds, while live football remains behind closed doors.
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden says supporters can not yet return
‘Of course I accept people’s frustration at the inconsistency there,’ the Secretary of State said.
‘In relation to sport, we had sports on a path to normality. At that time I was being attacked by the arts for prioritising sports. The next stage was to have pilots to move to a point from October 1 whereby we would be able to have socially-distanced spectators in stadiums.
‘That is what I desperately wanted to happen. But there is very clear evidence from the scientific community that at this stage of the disease, with rapidly rising infections, we should be imposing restrictions – which we are – not further easements.
‘We are doing things that are positively hateful, but the reason we are doing it is to secure public safety.’