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New UK coronavirus restrictions could prevent fans from returning for another six months

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Fears of a second wave

Crystal Palace v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Alastair Grant - Pool/Getty Images

Fearing a second wave after a steady rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths, the UK government announced their newest restrictions earlier today, which could be in place for another six months according to the Prime Minister.

“We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments and new forms of mass testing, but unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months”

-Boris Johnson; source: AP

The restrictions come with a curfew for businesses between the hours of 10pm and 5am, and also reduce exemptions to the “rule of six”, including indoor sports and five-a-side football. Weddings will be restricted to 15 people while funerals to 30, which seems amusing in a gallows humor sort of way.

More pertinently for this blog, plans to allow fans to return to stadia starting on October 1 have also been shelved, and without any real notion of when they might be re-examined again. If it’s another six months, that’s practically the entire season, which could be devastating to all teams, but especially those further down the pyramid.

The Premier League, who recently urged the UK government to not do this, have issues another strong statement today, though it’s unlikely that they would change the government’s thinking.

The statement, in part, reads:

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 Grounds 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.

Football is not the same without attending fans and the football economy is unsustainable without them.

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.

-Premier League statement

The statement adds that the League will continue to make preparations for the safe return of fans to “enable revenues to return to all levels of the game, as well as maintain solidarity arrangements, current tax contributions and financial support for local and national economies”.

Let’s hope some feasible solution can be found soon.