The Premier League have expressed their disappointment at the government’s decision to delay the return of fans to stadiums.
The planned return of spectators to sports venues in England from 1 October could be on hold for six months due to fears over a second wave of coronavirus infections.
U.K Prime minister Boris Johnson announced a range of restrictions in the House of Commons on Tuesday including those related to mass gatherings.
“We have to acknowledge that the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions, and large sporting events,” he said.
He said the measures being announced would remain in place for “perhaps six months”.
Why the Premier League is ‘disappointed’ with the UK government’s decision?
The delay will put increasing financial pressure on football clubs and other sports event organizers that have been deprived of matchday income since large gatherings were first prohibited in March in response to the pandemic.
The Premier League is one of several right- holders to question the decision, arguing that the health and safety protocols it has developed in preparation for the October reopening of venues would have protected the public.
“The Premier League notes the Government’s announcement today and while the health of the nation must remain everyone’s priority, we are disappointed that the safe return of supporters to matches has been postponed,” the statement said.
“The Premier League is certain that, through League-wide guidelines and a code of conduct developed with scientific experts and agreed by the Government’s Sports Ground Safety Authority, fans in stadiums will be as safe or even safer than at any other public activity currently permitted. This is already evident in other European leagues.”
The Premier League described the football economy as ‘unsustainable’ without fans, saying: “Last season, Premier League clubs suffered £700m in losses and at present, our national game is losing more than £100m per month. This is starting to have a devastating impact on clubs and their communities.”
A coalition of 100 sports bodies, including the FA, the RFU, the ECB, the LTA, the RFL, and British Cycling, has already written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson requesting £1.5billion in support, similar to the bailout for the art and culture sectors.
The Premier League is also set to come under increasing pressure to support the football pyramid. Buoyed by continuing television revenue, some top-flight clubs have appeared entirely unaffected by the situation, with Chelsea’s spending already beyond £200m this summer and Tottenham having splashed out to re-sign Gareth Bale.
The top-flight has advanced the EFL and National League £125m in funding but is yet to provide any new money.