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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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SanMarco added 11:15 - Feb 18
Presumably if the planning is put properly in place then a limited return can be announced at short notice. I think we just have to accept that even with the vaccine there are still very high levels of uncertainty. Even Boris Johnson, or his new more sensible advisers, seem to be more cautious now. I think, as Nick said, a couple of thousand in each stand would be practical for the match itself but if pubs are open before and/or after it sets scenarios outside the clubs control. I always enjoyed a few drinks before and after and would say that would have affected my social distancing judgment - especially if Mike Dean was the ref!!!
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ElijahK added 11:47 - Feb 18
Let’s hope this time the FA and government actually do it properly and allow a certain percentage of the stadium back (not a set amount), as it made no sense whatsoever of how the likes of old Trafford could have as many fans as Turf more!
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underweststand added 11:57 - Feb 18
Allowing fans back ?..Is this just a "positive hope / rumour " or, is it likely to be a reality? The vast majority of people want to continue avoiding unnecessary contact, but there is an additional measure that might show a more common sense / healthier approach.

Whilst some fans really enjoy being one of the first in the ground, many others walk upto their seats - just before kick-off. Generations past are still amazed to see that minority who insist on leaving 5 minutes before the end (regardless of the score) in order to "beat the traffic". I think we can respect both points of view, but if you are sitting in a mile long queue on the Millbrook bypass, or half way up the Avenue moving at snail's pace - you just have to grin and put up with it and get home - a little later.
Of course - for those who have only one train to catch to Salisbury, Poole and all points West, it's understandable to want to get away ASAP. Whilst others can afford to wait an extra 10 minutes to get their bus to Shirley, or Bitterne have less of a need to depart as soon as final whistle blows, and voluntarily wait a few minutes and " take it easier."

No need for stewards to take a head count, or hold people back, but adopt a voluntary approach to avoid the inevitable crowd crush to get back to the City Centre, and have everyone breathing heavily over each other could be more beneficial for everyone.
..just a thought .
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