How Many Supporters Will Be Allowed Back Into St Mary's ?
Friday, 4th Sep 2020 09:10
The big question on all Saints supporters lips is how many supporters will be allowed back into the stadium's when fans are allowed back in, here we take a look at what the likely capacity crowd will be when the gates are reopened.
After various trial sporting events have taken place without ill effect including a friendly at Brighton, it looks like now supporters could be allowed back in to football grounds in October, but the numbers allowed in will be greatly reduced to maintain social distancing.
A story in the media today suggests that a survey conducted basing purely on maintaining a one metre social distance between all fans would see most grounds seeing their capacity slashed to a little over a quarter.
They suggest that St Mary's on this basis would be able to welcome back 8,840 through it's doors, that would be the 8th lowest in the Premier League, but that would be in line with the full capacities in the division.
It claims that Manchester United would be able to host a mere 20,590 supporters inside, more than any other ground in the League but well short of its usual 76,000
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium would fit 16,890 compared to their usual capacity of 62,062. Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium would allow 16,400 permitted from 60,260, and West Ham’s 60,000 capacity would be limited to 16,330.
Burnley would have the smallest crowds with 5,820 and they would be joined at the bottom by Fulham’s Craven Cottage (6,990) and Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park (7,090)
The full table is below, but as we will show this is a purely mathematical list based on a one metre ruling rather than what can be safely achieved.
Man United - 75,653>20,590
Tottenham - 62,062>19,890
Arsenal - 60,260>16,400
West Ham - 60,000>16,330
Man City - 55,097>14,990
Liverpool - 54,074>14,710
Newcastle - 52,338>14,240
Aston Villa 42,660>11,610
Chelsea - 41,798>11,370
Everton - 39,571>10,770
Leeds - 39,460>10,740
Sheffield United - 32,702>8,900
Southampton - 32,505>8,840
Wolves - 31,700>8,620
Brighton - 30,750>8360
West Brom - 26,287>7,150
Crystal Palace - 26,074>7,090
Fulham - 25,700>6,990
Burnley - 21,401>5,820
As I mentioned above this is based purely on measurement and calculation of the size of each stadium and the number of seats, hence we get the rough figure of slightly over 27% capacity per stadium.
It should also be noted here that this survey is based on the theoretical capacity of the stadium rather than it's true capacity for supporters, St Mary's is given as 32,505, but that figure includes all seats in the ground including media and even the trainers bench.
This is also inaccurate in that how many are allowed into the ground would also be affected by the access to the stadium itself and indeed the size of the concourse areas.
Everton for example could theoretically get 10,770 in based on the one metre distance, but as anyone who has been to Goodison will know, the ground is surrounded on three sides by houses literally less that 10 metres away across the street, this would make access to three of the stands difficult, also two of those stands were build in the 1920's and have cramped concourse areas, they might be able to fit the numbers in, but could they do so safely, perhaps on a 10,000 crowd, but if that was anymore social distancing would not be able to be maintained in the street outside or inside the concourses.
Sheffield United, Burnley, Fulham & Palace are also stadium that have adjoining housing and cramped access .
It was no coincidence Brighton was chosen for the trial, it is a stadium that has wide concourse areas both inside and outside, it can socially distance crowds a lot easier than Everton for instance.
St Mary's has good access, the bulk of the supporters walk to the ground along non residential streets and the stadium itself although a little cramped when compared to some of the newer stadia, does have a wide concourse outside and spacious concourses inside.
It can effectively fence in it's car park and outer concourse as those who have attended concerts there will testify and that will allows for easy access as well as being able to use that outer concourse for toilet and food facilities.
This means that it will be a lot easier to get fans in and out safely and that could well play a part in how many are eventually allowed back in the stadium.
Saints have also been pro active in identifying potential bubble groups, the survey above literally applies the simple rule of 1 supporters isolated on his own 1 metre away from any other fan, it doesn't account for the fact that those in the same household could sit together and that could increase the capacity drastically.
Saints family centre will help here in that they already are family bubbles in there, but throughout the ground there are many spread around who go in family groups.
So if Saints can increase capacity from the 8, 840 claimed in the survey, taking into account the roomy access, spacious concourses and family bubbles etc what could it possibly achieve.
The truth is it will squeeze it up a little, perhaps by 3,000 or so but not much more, the general consensus is that each ground is different, but some are better equipped than others and St Mary's whilst not as spacious as West Ham, has the ability to get more in safely than others.
This being the case it has been suggested that each ground could achieve somewhere between 25% & 40% capacity initially, in Saints case that would mean around 12,000 in the ground, but at the moment this is pure speculation as this is reliant on the number of "bubbles" that can be achieved in the ground itself.
This is a complex task and made more difficult by the fact that Saints and indeed most clubs will have to have a different bubble at each game to accommodate season ticket holders in ballots etc.
In a previous article I suggested that those most loyal ie regular away fans and long terms season ticket holders should be granted access to all games as the club truly matter to them, but this is not just a loyalty thing it is a practical thing as well, if we have 5,000 in place for each fixture in the same seat it makes it a lot easier to then ballot and allocate seating in the other fixtures with reduced capacity.
If Saints do not do this, then I fear that there will be seats empty in the stadium that could have been filled, but haven't been due to the logistics of identifying bubbles etc on a game by game basis, made even harder by the fact that club's cannot plan forward with any certainty.
So I think Saints will be able to get more than 8,840 in the ground due to the fact they have been proactive, but Initially I can't see it being more than 12,000 or 37.5% i would guess slightly lower.
But going forward I think Saints more than most will have the chance to increase that capacity and if things go well and there is no second wave of Covid 19 we could well be on track to accommodating all season ticket holders or at least all that want to go, in the ground before Xmas.
These are strange times and I'm afraid the situation is what it is, the truth is whether we can go to games or not if we want our football clubs and indeed the game itself to survive, then we have to support the club's financially, some glibly say that it if they want to pay players £85,000 a week then they have no sympathy for the club, yet they all clamour for tickets when we reach a cup final and complain with the best of them about the fact that we have lost out on a new signing because we won't pay as much as West Ham or Everton.
This is a period when things will change going forward, not just in life but football, if we sit back and just post comments on message boards then the economy will stay in recession and it won't just be shops on the High Street closing but Football Clubs as well
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #05 by wessex_exile
Matchday #3, and Robbie’s not happy. I know opinion is divided, but I have considerable sympathy with the Chairman on this one. I don’t want this to be necessarily a political comment, but many are looking on with bemusement as the government seem to lurch from one knee-jerk reaction to another during this crisis, and I would be saying this of any government, regardless of their political persuasion. The nub of Robbie’s comments is quite simple, what’s the point in having a panel of experts working closely with responsible club owners to plan supporter’s safe return to essentially open air stadia, investing in alterations, changes to layout, developing detailed procedures etc. to then have the rug pulled out from under their feet? I know why, a second wave seems to be coming, and frankly it looks like people simply can’t be trusted to follow the rules – but why then are pubs still open, or does the virus only come out after 10pm?
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