Premier League Club CEO Says Fans Might Be Back Before The End Of The Season
Thursday, 18th Feb 2021 10:05
This week the Premier League announced that all Premier League games would continue to be televised whilst fans were not allowed into back into stadiums en masse, but the CEO of a Premier League clubs has revealed that there could yet be some fans let in before the season ends.
Supporters were allowed back into the stadiums back in December before the Covid 19 second wave hit and the gates were locked once again, but just because something is unlikely to be able to happen doesn't mean that you can't plan for the future.
Earlier in the week it was announced that it was hoped that around 30,000 supporters would be able to attend the two major cup finals at Wembley, the Football League has put back the final of the EFL Cup until 25th April in the home that this might be able to happen and the FA Cup Final is scheduled for mid May and were in discussion with the Government about the possibility.
Perhaps this is pie in the Sky and with the Government stating that a return to normality will be based on data and not days, it will be all about how well the pandemic is stamped down and how quickly we get a large proportion of the country vaccinated.
So it was interesting to read comments by Brighton & Hove Albion CEO Paul Barber.
Speaking at the Financial Times’ Business of Football event yesterday , Barber had this to say:
“We are hopeful that we might see a small number of fans back by the end of the season.
“But realistically we are preparing for the worst and them not coming back.
“There are a number of issues. There is going to be the issue of confidence, even when people have received the vaccine, not everybody will take the option of having it, and in terms of fans coming back in large numbers and getting to and from the stadium.
“There is the financial issue, too. A lot of people have lost their jobs so that is going to have some impact on season ticket and matchday sales.
“And then were are set to face some form of government restrictions, whether that is in terms of limited capacity or social distancing.
“But there is a huge demand for people to get out of their homes and see live events, and in particular live sport. The opportunity for them to come back and watch a game in a stadium is significant.
“For us, it can’t come soon enough but it has to be done when it is safe to do so.”
Of course the big driver will be how well the vaccine for Covid 19 works and how quickly the infection & death rates come down.
Boris Johnson has stated that when he sets out his road map on when restrictions will be likely to be eased it will be about data & not days.
This suggests a fluid approach to the situation, that things will change as the situation does, clearly although the Government do not want to set time scales the fact they are discussing the situation with the Premier League EFL and the FA etc shows that they feel that a return of fans to stadiums could be a realistic target before the end of the season, although as back in December it will be drastically reduced capacity's.
The EFL cup final is still around 10 weeks away and that is going to be the first signpost to point out whether fans back in stadiums is achievable, this will mean that by the start of April there has to be certain targets met in terms of data.
From a personal point of view I feel that we can achieve at least the level of fans back in the grounds as back in December, if it is fine to sit outside a restaurant or pub in a beer garden in April then surely fans in stadiums can be achieved at a far safer level.
Having attended the Manchester City game at St Mary's i have to say that the 2,000 fans were very far apart in the one stand and apart from a little logistical problem on leaving the stadium that was down to poor planning on the Saints side of things that could easily be rectified, I can't see why fans should not be let back in etc etc permitting .
Indeed if they can achieve 2,000 in one stand safely then if all 4 are utilised I cannot see why 10,000 could not also be accomodated just as safely.
Of course there will be those that will not feel comfortable going and that is their choice, but that is going to be the case in all walks of life, there will be those that don't feel comfortable going to a supermarket, but life had to go on and supermarkets had to stay open.
So there is hope for football supporters and we all have to be positive about this happening, it is better to have 2,000 in the ground rather than none at all.
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #35 by wessex_exile
As many were predicting, time finally ran out for Steve Ball mid-week, after the U’s lost 2-1 at home to Exeter City. Although a considerable improvement in score-line compared to the 6-1 thrashing they handed out at St James Park earlier in the season, apart from the first 10-15 minutes and very brief glimpses throughout the remainder of the game, it was a poor performance, leaving Robbie Cowling with no choice. After a brief interlude, Robbie named Wayne Brown as our new Interim Head Coach (that’s caretaker as far as I’m concerned), and after an even briefer interlude, Robbie and Wayne in a joint statement put to rest any lingering concerns about Wayne’s attitude to race. If Wayne can show the same sort of leadership on the training ground and in the dressing room as he used to show for the U’s on the pitch, I am certain he’s going to do very well in the job.
Letters from Wiltshire #34 by wessex_exile
I won’t dwell on Robbie’s latest message to the supporters – we’ve all read it, and we’ve all probably drawn our own conclusions about what it doesn’t say as much as what it does. To me, bottom line, I suspect the clock is now ticking for Steve Ball (at least), turn around this terrible form pretty damn quick, or start clearing out your locker. Regardless of personal opinions on any of the individuals concerned, I would like to think none of us actually wants to see people made redundant in the current climate. But, these are difficult times that require tough decisions. If Steve Ball is up to the job and can turn this around, I’ll be more than happy to support him. If he’s not, he has to go before irreparable harm is done…and we all know what that will look like, we’ve been there before…
Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
Today we face a trip to Crawley, not usually a venue that bears fruit for the U’s it has to be said. In nine visits we’ve only won once in the league, and once in the League Cup. Of course, we’ll all remember that League Cup victory, indeed many of us were probably there to see us progress through to 5th round and the dream fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford. All of our goal-scorers that night, Luke’s Norris and Gambin, and Cohen Bramall (okay, technically an O.G.), are no longer with us, so let’s hope at the very least that recent departee and subsequent returnee Frank Nouble can bag another like his late equaliser against Mansfield. Steve Ball commented during the week about how tight the league is at the moment, and he’s right that a couple of back to back victories would see us move significantly up the table away from danger – but we’ve got to win them first Steve – something we’ve failed to do since our 1-0 victory at Scunthorpe on December 8th.
Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
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