English football fans ‘could’ make their long-awaited return to football stadia from as early as next month, according to a report, in what would be a significant boost to fans and clubs alike.
Professional football in the UK has been played in the soulless surrounds of empty stadiums up and down the land since the game ground to a halt back in March following the widespread onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
A planned return of supporters in October was forced to be shelved amid the onset of a second spike in cases across the UK, a spike which eventually prompted a second national lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that the nationwide restrictions will be ended on December 2nd, with it being expected that England will return to the tiered, regionalised measures.
Now, according to The Mirror, government chiefs have ‘drawn up proposals for a phased return of supporters’ to Premier League and EFL matches when the national lockdown ends next month. The report says that fans ‘could’ return in areas which are placed in Tier’s one and two where the incidence of the virus is lower, though those in Tier three and an anticipated Tier Four will still be forced to be played behind closed doors.
The news will be a boost to clubs up and down the land, particularly in the EFL where matchday revenue forms a much greater chunk of a clubs income.
While fans may be permitted in a little over two weeks time, a return of spectators would likely cause a logistical nightmare, especially at the bigger clubs, where fans are known to come from far and wide.
Any return of fans is still likely to be at heavily restricted capacities, with Manchester United recently announcing that their plans to socially distance fans would allow a maximum of 23,500 supporters inside Old Trafford, around a third full capacity.
The news comes days after parliament discussed the potential return of supporters after an online petition triggered a debate after it collected over 200,000 signatures, with fans having grown increasingly unhappy at stadia remaining empty while other indoor events were allowed to continue.
Regardless of whether fans are allowed, the Premier League have confirmed that their ridiculous pay-per-view system has been scrapped, with all games set to be shown with no additional charges until at least the new year following a very public backlash.