Despite being a positive step to get football back to normal, Premier League clubs will likely have to face further losses as fans begin the gradual return back to stadiums next month.
Aside from a scattering of trials back in September, football fans have been absent from EFL and top-flight grounds since March, with the ongoing pandemic forcing fixtures to be played behind-closed-doors at the back end of last season and into the current campaign.
With England’s four-week national lockdown set to end on 2 December, supporters will once again be able to head through the turnstiles, albeit at a reduced capacity.
In the lowest-risk Tier 1 areas stadiums will be able to welcome back up to 4,000 fans, with 2,000 supporters allowed in Tier 2 locations and none allowed in Tier 3 – although Prime Minister Boris Johnson is yet to confirm which areas will be placed in what tiers.
The news has come as a welcome relief to all involved in football, particularly for lower league clubs, yet it may have an adverse effect on those sides at the top of the pyramid.
As per the Daily Mail, Brighton have revealed that while news of the return of supporters is a good step in the right direction, it will lead to further losses for top-flight clubs. The Seagulls were able to allow 2,500 fans to watch a pre-season friendly fixture at the AMEX back in August, yet they reportedly need at least 8,000 supporters to breakeven.
The process by which Muzzy Izzet was accepted into the Turkish setup was… unusual 👀🇹🇷
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Nevertheless, the club can see the obvious benefits of the announcement for all clubs and should be able to see fans return on 5 December in the South Coast clash with Southampton.
“The reality is we are going to be losing more money by bringing 2,000 or even 4,000 fans back than probably having an empty stadium, but psychologically it’s really important for us to take the first step,” Paul Barber, Brighton’s chief executive reveals.
“Even though most Premier League clubs will probably lose money, all of us would want to do it for the psychological reasons of the boost it provides staff, for the small reward it gives for some supporters.”
“It’s only sustainable in the very short term for clubs of our size or stadiums of our size.
“We will already be adding to substantial losses that we are making. For clubs lower down the pyramid, this is potentially a financial lifeline and a really important one for those clubs, so this is really good news for them.
“We are looking forward to proving to government that we can bring fans back safely.”