Ahead of the Christmas holiday, the UK Government is exploring the potential for fans to return to sports venues in some parts of England as early as next month. This means some Premier League fans could be back to the stand before Christmas after the second COVID-19 lockdown.
Fans have been barred from attending Premier League matches since March due to COVID-19. A sources close to the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated to lawmakers on Monday that re-opening turnstiles as soon as possible was “a personal priority”.
Futballnews reliably gathered that the country’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is working on allowing fans into stadia in areas where the rates of COVID-19 infections are sufficiently low – possibly before Christmas.
Before now, Sports had previously been told to brace up for the absence of fans until April till a sufficient number of people are vaccinated.
UK Government hold constructive talks with football leaders ahead of planned returns of fans to stands
After holding a “constructive” talks with football leaders on the return of fans, along with issues such as governance reforms, financial sustainability, and greater diversity, the UK Government is said to have made progress.
“I want to work together with football to make progress on important issues for the game’s long-term future.
“Discussions to continue as we start our fan-led review of governance,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who hosted a 90-minute ‘virtual future of football’ summit said.
There was a proposal to link access to sports grounds with the tier-system before the second national lockdown. Before coming into force earlier this month, they are yet to be finalized or approved by the Cabinet Office.
It was gathered that the government is working on a plan that would enable a phased return of fans in Tier One and possibly Tier Two areas of the country, if the lockdown is lifted, as hoped, in early December.
The plans for a partial return of spectators from 1 October suffered a devastating blow to cash-strapped sports bodies. This made them scrap it due to a rise in coronavirus cases.
Despite hosting pilot events with socially-distanced crowds succesfully, Turnstiles have been closed since March.
However, some arts venues, such as the O2 and Royal Albert Hall, will be hosting audiences of up to 5,000 people next month. This created a controversy that led to accusations of inconsistency and favouritism from the sports industry.
During a parliamentary debate on the issue last week, the government refused to say when it expects spectators to be allowed back inside sports venues in England. There is almost 200,000 signatures on petitions calling for fans to be able to return.
With UK still battling to contain the dreaded virus, there are fears that opening stadia could lead to a greater risk of transmission.
“Everyone’s saying, ‘can I get back to my stadium?
“You times that by multiple levels, leagues and sports, and all of a sudden we’ve got a whole scale far beyond what is acceptable at this moment in time,” Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said last week.
However, there is good news concerning the return of fans. This is a major boost to the sport, as there now seems to have been a shift in approach.
Let’s wait and see what the UK Government will come up with after their second lockdown.