Football begs government to keep fans inside stadiums amid surge in Covid cases

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Football is begging the government not to lock down spectators in the new year unless data from Covid clearly shows that a national health emergency requires a ban on fans.

As the match faces the possibility of more closed-door matches – with Wales introducing a spectator ban today and the crowd in Scotland capped at 500 – football authorities in England fear a further period restrictions on spectators are imminent.

Government sources say they are constantly monitoring Covid data and it is currently impossible to predict whether it will be necessary to exclude fans to protect public health.

But with clubs losing billions of pounds last season after an almost complete campaign without spectators, QPR chief executive Lee Hoos has urged the government not to make a hasty decision. And Accrington owner Andy Holt has warned that going behind closed doors could pose financial risks.

Football begs the government not to exclude fans from the pitches in the new year

Premier League managers Pep Guardiola and David Moyes also said the game would suffer if the crowds were lost, with Guardiola urging people to wear masks and adhere to Covid restrictions to prevent this from happening. “You have to be safe, there’s no question about it, but let’s make sure we’re working on facts and not emotions,” Hoos said.

“The government’s approach makes sense, to say, ‘Let’s see what the data says’. And in a week or two, what will it be? Because that is when the cases contracted at this time will show up in the hospitalization.

“If it’s got to happen, it has to happen, but just make sure it has to happen. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this new variant is not so deadly and that there is no need for further restrictions. ‘

Premier League clubs had cumulative entry revenue of around £ 700million in 2018-19, the last full season with no fan restrictions.

Manchester United earned £ 111million from matchday income and Arsenal £ 96million.

Wolves skipper Conor Coady gives thumbs up as he gets his booster shot

Wolves skipper Conor Coady gives thumbs up as he gets his booster shot

Wolves striker Adama Traore receives his Covid booster vaccination last week

Wolves striker Adama Traore receives his Covid booster vaccination last week

However, there are further losses in sponsorship clauses and merchandising sales, which are declining with no supporters present in the stadiums.

Additionally, TV companies had to receive discounts for the break caused by Covid in March 2020.

On the Championship side, QPR had revenue of almost £ 5.4million in 2018-19, which would be around 25% of their revenue now in a normal year.

But Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 teams are even more dependent on gate receipts.

With many clubs in more precarious positions than QPR, Hoos was amazed at the industry’s ability to hang on, but predicted that more clubs will follow Derby County and enter administration if fans are banned. .

Hoos said: “I was amazed that there weren’t more clubs that went over the last time. Fair play to football fans and owners for digging in their pockets. ‘

City boss Pep Guardiola urges people to wear masks and comply with Covid restrictions

City boss Pep Guardiola urges people to wear masks and comply with Covid restrictions

Holt, who cut Accrington’s spending early in the pandemic to ensure their financial survival, agreed some EFL clubs could go to the wall if crowds were banned again.

“It would be a terrible thing for business, and some clubs would come close to the edge,” he said. “It is true that while we had warnings early on that clubs would pull back, none did, but it can only last so long.”

Football League clubs could put staff on leave, but they did not receive any of the bailouts available for the hospitality industry or theater and entertainment industry as the government felt the Premier League had enough money to subsidize the lower leagues.

‘If it was the thought process [that the Premier League would step in and make good the losses of lower league clubs] guess what, that didn’t happen, ”Hoos said.

Coronavirus signs outside Tottenham Hotspur stadium urging fans to follow protocols

Coronavirus signs outside Tottenham Hotspur stadium urging fans to follow protocols

After six months of wrangling, the Premier League finally agreed to pay £ 15million to allow Championship clubs access to interest-free loans worth a total of £ 200million and gave away £ 50million. pounds sterling to Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs.

“It helped. But was it the blow in the arm to absolutely make us cross the line? No, it wasn’t. There was no ‘Eat out to help’ [for football], we were told that VAT relief in the entertainment and hospitality industry did not apply to us, which I found unbelievable. We had nothing except a leave.

Premier League clubs are in a better position to withstand the financial damage caused by fan exclusion, but the impact is significant.

“I wouldn’t like the doors closed anymore,” Guardiola said. “You can’t imagine how different it is to play without the people.

“Cases are increasing all over the world. People in stadiums can contaminate and then in stadiums people don’t use masks.

“That’s what surprises me the most, you go to the big shopping malls, no one wears a mask. Scientists said from the start that the best protection you can have is hand sanitizer and that [a mask]. We should start over – vaccinated, booster, as part of that, hand sanitizer, social distancing, and masks. This way the football could continue.

West Ham manager Moyes said: “I would like the fans to stay in games because I don’t want to come back as it was.” We had a Europa League match in Vienna a few weeks ago when there was no crowd and it was bad.


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