Fans will not be able to return to sporting events from October - here’s what the government has said

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 5:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 5:27 pm

Fans in England hoping to get a glimpse of their favourite team in the flesh after lockdown will have to wait a bit longer.

The government has cancelled plans for live sport to return from 1 October.

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove announced that the plans to have the staged return of fans to stadiums in England would be “paused.”

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Speaking to BBC Breakfast on 22 September, Gove said, “We were looking at a staged programme of more people returning - it wasn't going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans.

"We're looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme, but what we do want to do is to make sure that, as and when circumstances allow, get more people back.

"The virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors but again it's in the nature of major sporting events that there's a lot of mingling."

March’s full crowds under scrutiny

The majority of sport in England has been played behind closed doors since the lockdown was implemented. This has included Premier League Football, England’s Test cricket matches, and the FA Cup final.

Events that took place with full crowds in March have come under scrutiny regarding their potential impact on the infection levels in the country. Calls for an investigation into whether the Cheltenham Festival in March should have gone ahead have been made, and Liverpool City Council is looking into the impact of Liverpool FC’s Champions League fixture against Atletico Madrid held in front of 52,000 fans in March.

The government has defended its decision to allow the events to go ahead.

Gove added, “People look back now at the beginning of the pandemic at some of the major sporting events then and ask the question why were they allowed to go ahead.

"What we must do is look at sporting events now with caution but we also recognise that sport is a vital part of this nation and we're looking at everything we can do to support our athletes, our great clubs, through what will be a challenging time."

Letter from sports bodies

A letter was sent to the prime minister from leaders of more than 100 sports bodies in the UK to ask for emergency funding. The leaders warned of a “lost generation of activity” because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sport England has handed out £200 million for emergency cases, but the sector believes more is needed for people to survive.