The UK Prime Minister Says Fans Cannot Return To
The Sporting Event In October Due To COVID Spike
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that plans for fans to re-watch live sporting events in England from 1 October will not go ahead.
The plans were put under review following a surge in coronavirus cases.
The UK’s Covid-19 alert level has been moved to 4, meaning transmission is “high or increasing exponentially”.
“We have to acknowledge that the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen major sporting events,” the prime minister said.
In a speech to the House of Commons on Tuesday, he announced new restrictions on the country, including the suspension of the gradual return of fans.
“We will not be able to do this as of October 1 and I recognize the implications for our sports clubs, which are the life and soul of our communities,” he added.
“The chancellor and the secretary of culture are working urgently on what we can do now to support them.”
The prime minister also said the current restrictions are likely to remain in effect for the next six months.
The pilot program, which was to test events of up to 1,000 spectators, has also been stopped.
Most sports in England have been played behind closed doors since the coronavirus shutdown in March, including Premier League football, the FA Cup final, England cricket matches and two Formula 1 races at Silverstone. .
The sporting events that took place with crowds of spectators in March, shortly before all games were postponed and the UK locked out, have come under scrutiny.
The city council is investigating the impact of Liverpool’s Champions League match with Atlético de Madrid on the spread of the coronavirus, while an inquiry has also been made as to whether the Cheltenham Festival should have taken place.
The government defended its decision to allow such events to continue before restrictions on mass rallies were introduced.
“People are now looking back, at the beginning of the pandemic, to some of the major sporting events back then and wondering why they were allowed to go ahead,” Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove told BBC Breakfast early Tuesday.
“What we need to do is look at sporting events now with caution, but we also recognize that sport is a vital part of this nation and we are seeing all that we can do to support our athletes, our great clubs, through what it will be a challenging time. ”
Julian Knight, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) selection committee, said that “if we do not find a roadmap with smart solutions to allow live and sporting events to gradually reopen, we risk decimating our sport and cultural infrastructure ”.
The leaders of more than 100 sports organizations have written to the prime minister to request emergency funding, warning of “a lost generation of activity” due to the coronavirus.
Sport England has provided £ 200 million for emergencies, but many in the industry believe more is needed.
Earlier this month, Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters told BBC Sport that it was “absolutely critical” that fans could return to stadiums as soon as possible and that failure to do so would cost clubs £ 700 million. during the 2020-21 season.
Clubs in the English Football League lost £ 50 million in revenue last season and estimate a loss of £ 200 million if there are no fans this season.
The Rugby Football Union is poised for a loss of revenue of £ 50 million. They had hoped that up to 20,000 fans would be able to enter Twickenham to watch England play the Barbarians on October 25, but now they have suspended ticket sales.
Rugby Football League Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer urged the government not to delay the return of the crowds as clubs face a potential revenue impact of “up to £ 2 million per week”.
At the end of August, 2,500 people watched a friendly between Brighton and Chelsea at the Seagulls’ Amex Stadium, the first time fans were allowed onto a Premier League field in nearly six months.
Arsenal’s 9-1 victory over West Ham in the Women’s Super League on September 12 was attended by up to 1,000 fans.