The Premier League issued the following statement on Friday in relation to supporters being allowed to attend matches at some point in the new season.
Manchester United were dealt a huge blow in their hope of allowing 12,000 fans into Old Trafford for their opening game of the season against Crystal Palace.
According to The Athletic, United were due to meet authorities on Thursday to discuss the possibility of the trial run. They would then hope to increase the capacity for Tottenham’s visit to Old Trafford.
But Downing Street put the plans on hold after government scientists deemed the prevalence of the coronavirus was too high to let fans back so soon, even if it feels like it’s been a lifetime.
Crowds for the pilot games will be capped at 1,000, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today. He said the Government will “revise plans to pilot larger audience later this month” and they will review the idea of allowing fans back to stadiums, as per Sky Sports.
Johnson stressed “it doesn’t mean we will scrap it entirely” but you should probably take that with a pinch of salt knowing his track record as PM.
The following statement was issued by a Premier League spokesperson, as per Manchester United’s official website: “The Premier League has written to the government today to express its concern at the decisions taken to restrict, and potentially delay, the planned programme for the return of fans to football stadiums.
“With test events now capped at 1,000 supporters, we believe they will not provide any opportunity to properly test and evaluate measures designed to maximum fan safety.
“Therefore, Premier League clubs will defer holding test events until a sufficient number of fans are allowed back to enable thorough trials to take place. At 1,000 supporters, not only would there be little to learn from a test event, but each match would be heavily loss-making.
“For each month of the season without fans, more than £100 million is lost to football across the leagues, with consequent damage to the local and national economy. It also harms the employment prospects of more than 100,000 people whose jobs depend on matchday activities.
“Our clubs have already prepared test events and can offer larger scale trials to prove it is possible to produce bio-secure, safe environments, as we proved through the successful delivery of Project Restart.
“The Premier League recognises the ambition of the government’s Operation Moonshot and will support the project’s objectives to get fans back into stadiums. However, we believe measures are already available which would allow the safe return of fans and should also be activated now.
“As the government begins its review of the 1 October date for the return of spectators to sport, the Premier League asks that the high safety standards which can be achieved by our clubs are fully taken into account before any decision is taken and that sport is not left behind other industries.”
Everyone wants fans back at games and I think it’s possible with the capacity we have at Old Trafford.
Hopefully they come to a safe solution soon.