Football Event News
Last week a petition signed by nearly 200,000 people to let fans in football stadiums amid COVID-19 was debated in parliament.
The debate saw Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston, declare the government’s objective to let fans in football stadiums as soon possible but was unable to provide a timeline of events.
However, it has since been announced that fans could potentially return to football stadiums in December once the UK is out of its second lockdown.
With football matches being played behind closed doors since March, both fans and clubs are eager to return to stadiums to experience the sport they love, as well as prevent further financial stress.
Discover what was discussed in the parliamentary debate on spectator attendance at football matches during COVID-19, as well as the financial future for elite sports.
What was the outcome of the debate to let fans in stadiums?
A number of ministers joined the recent debate, all highlighting the significant financial implications of continuing to prevent fans from returning to football stadiums, as well as the ability to incorporate social distancing measures.
Whilst Huddleston acknowledged these concerns; he was not able to provide a roadmap of when fans could be set to return due to current levels of COVID-19 cases. He also highlighted the importance of fans returning to all elite sports rather than just football.
The Sports Minister’s key argument was that the government still needs to consider how fans travelling to stadiums could also impact virus transmission in addition to being a spectator inside the venue.
Huddleston went on to add that one of the main challenges of allowing fans back in football stadiums was that multiple leagues and sports would suddenly mount to capacities far beyond what the government currently believes to be acceptable.
It was also acknowledged that a ‘one size fits all’ scenario would not be practical for the return of fans to football stadiums and was confirmed that this is something the government is ‘looking at’.
When will football stadiums reopen?
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have proposed for fans to return to football stadiums in December in low-risk areas. The government are looking to reintroduce the tier system, with the aim of allowing fans to return to sporting events within tier 1 and 2 areas.
Although incredibly promising for the football community, the proposal is yet to be approved by the government and the specific details yet to be confirmed.
When will pilot events resume?
Shadow Sports Minister Alison McGovern highlighted the progress that had been made concerning pilot events to regulate a phased safe return of fans to elite sporting events from 1st October.
Sadly, pilot events were put on hold, with the targeted October return date abandoned due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
McGovern questioned when the pilot events journey would be completed, to which Huddleston replied that the government have had to press the pause button and that the plan is to resume ‘as soon as we can’.
McGovern also went on to argue how football seems to have been left behind in comparison to concerts and other cultural events.
Football fans were outraged when it was announced that 2,500 people were permitted to attend a programme of events at the Royal Albert Hall during December. The government responded that concerts are one-off events in comparison to football matches, which take place weekly up and down the country.
Will the government bailout elite sports?
From a financial perspective, Huddleston made clear that he believed that football on an elite level should remain self-sufficient. He went on to add how he considers elite football to have plenty of money, but that is not distributed in the right way.
It was announced that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will provide financial support to ‘other sports’ who have been impacted by COVID-19, though it was not specified exactly which sports would be covered.
Concerning EFL clubs, Conservative MP Julian Knight stated how so many of the teams that depend on ticket revenues are now finding themselves in dire straits.
He argued that If we don’t see football bodies come together soon for the good of the game, there is a risk that 10 – 15 EFL clubs could go bust, as well as 10 EFL clubs who are currently at risk of not making their November payroll.
To highlight the comparison between EFL and the Premier League, he went on to mention that just 17% of Chelsea’s revenue comes from ticket sales, as well as the Premier League’s £9 billion television deal.
Knight’s comments come after the EFL rejected a £50 million bailout from the Premier League, declaring that the bailout was insufficient to meet their current financial needs.
What’s next for football fans amid COVID-19?
Following the latest announcement by DCMS, football fans are hoping that they are able to return to stadiums in December as proposed. The UK’s second lockdown is currently due to end on 2nd December, as well as reports that a COVID-19 vaccine could be rolled out before Christmas.
Whilst it remains to be seen if fans can return next month, it appears that progress is being made when it comes to combating the virus.
As soon as infection rates begin to reduce, it is likely that the government will allow pilot events to resume and kickstart the process of safely returning to further elite sporting venues once again.
We eagerly await the day that fans can return to football stadiums and, in the words of Julian Knight, get to experience what is ‘a fundamental part of our national fabric.’
Thousands are backing a new petition pleading for the government to reassess the return of football fans in stadiums.
It was a significant blow for football fans, as well as the EFL and Premier League, as Boris Johnson confirmed that a return to stadiums from 1st October would no longer be possible. The government indicated that it could potentially be another six months before fans could return to stadiums as a result of ongoing COVID-19 concerns.
The petition follows the Premier League’s open letter to the Prime Minister calling for the safe return of fans to stadiums as soon as possible to avoid further financial distress.
The Premier League’s urge appears to have become a catalyst for change as the new campaign to ‘let fans in’ has resonated significantly within the football community and across social media.
Take a look as we delve into the specifics of the ‘let fans in’ stadiums petition as well as the Premier League’s appeal to the government.
What does the ‘let fans in’ petition entail?
The ‘let fans in’ petition pleas for football fans to attend matches at all levels. Currently, EFL and Premier League games for the 2020/21 are being played behind closed doors, and footballing bodies are asking for change.
The Premier League has anticipated that it will lose £500 million as a result of COVID-19. The government’s decision to delay fans in stadiums is having a devastating impact financially, as well as fans who are desperate to cheer on their teams once again.
The ‘let fans in’ petition, was created by Ashley Greenwood. He outlined how football is a powerful tool which keeps many people in employment as well as the other range of benefits it can bring, such as morale and wellbeing. The main concern is that smaller clubs will go out of business, which will have a disastrous effect on many people.
The government’s decision not to allow fans back in stadiums from 1st October was met with heavy frustration, given that several successful EFL pilot matches took place just one week previously.
As a result, football fans are growing frustrated over inconsistencies within government policies. In particular, the decision to allow 3,000 audience members to a Christmas event at the Royal Albert Hall was met with both anger and confusion.
What was said in the Premier League’s open letter?
The Premier League’s recent open letter to the Prime Minister was signed by chief executive Richard Masters, EFL chief executive David Baldwin, FA chief executive Mark Bullingham and FA director of the women’s game, Kelly Simmons.
The letter acknowledged how football is not the same when fans are not involved, with the teams lacking the connection and impact that only their supporters can bring.
In response to the government allowing audiences at indoor venues, they accepted that it is substantial progress that cultural events can be conducted indoors in a socially-distance manner. However, they have argued that football should now be allowed to do the same, with football stadiums more than able to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
It was highlighted how outdoor venues such as football stadiums are more likely to be safer than the currently allowed indoor events. In the letter, they confirmed their dedication to making stadiums as COVID-secure as possible. Some of the measures that would be followed include:
- Screening fans before they enter the stadium
- Temperature checks
- Masks to be worn at all times
- One-way systems in the stadium
- Deep cleaning practices
- Matchday code of conduct
The letter was concluded by stating their determination to bring fans back to stadiums as soon as possible and working with the government to identify a pathway forward.
How will ‘let fans in’ petition progress?
It is a requirement for a petition to receive 100,000 signatures to be eligible for discussion within the House of Commons. At the time of writing the petition to let fans in has surpassed 160,000 so is now entitled to consideration.
We will closely follow the developments of this petition to let fans back into stadiums and will update this space once more information is available.
With so many backing the ‘let fans in’ campaign; hopefully, it won’t be too much longer before we see the safe return of fans to stadiums.
An empty stadium is a loss on so many levels. In addition to the financial implications, an empty stadium lacks the passion, atmosphere and joy that can only be ignited when fans gather together.
We cannot wait for the day when we can once again unite and return to enjoying the sport we all love.
To sign the petition, please click here.
The 2020/21 Premier League season is well underway and, as ever, brings about a fresh set of intense ‘we meet again’ matches.
Though games may currently be playing behind closed doors, let’s talk about the key football rivalries and unmissable matches during the 2020/21 Premier League season.
1. Liverpool v Manchester City
Saturday 6th February 2021 at Anfield – 15:00
Both former Premier league champions, The Reds versus the Sky Blues is likely to stir up some intense football action at Anfield Stadium this season. Last season saw a string of unbelievable performances from Liverpool, who came top of the Premier League table 18 points ahead of Man City.
The Liverpool v Manchester City fixture last season, saw The Reds win 3-1 with Liverpool scoring just 6 minutes into the game.
Each team will be looking to secure the top spot in the Premier League once again; the first teams will be out and raring to grab the win. With two solid teams like Liverpool and City, this fixture will be one that you shouldn’t miss. Pure class football action from the former Champions of Europe and the Premier League Champions.
Saturday 27th February 2021 at Stamford Bridge – 15:00
Once again, Manchester United’s remained victorious against Chelsea in the 2019/20 Premier League season, winning 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea will be looking to make a much-needed comeback on home soil. The opening games of the previous season seemed tough for Chelsea under manager Frank Lampard but having settled in nicely and brought in some exciting new players during the transfer window, this fixture is promised to provide pure entertainment and hopefully some wonderful goals.
Last year Chelsea finished one place below Man United, both on 66 points, so we’re hoping for a strong run for Chelsea securing to get back into the top 3 for 2020/21 Premier League season.
3. London Derby: Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday 13th March 2021 at Emirates Stadium – 15:00
Game faces are on for the strong rivalry from the two North London sides. The game will be the first time the two teams meet this season and both sides will be looking to dominate the game.
When these two North London teams meet each other there is guaranteed to be a yellow card thrown in the match. The minimum number of yellow cards per match is 3. I guess it’s all very heated as they both rival for North London.
Last season’s games against Arsenal were a mixed bag with Spurs winning 2-1 on home soil but drawing at Emirates. Will this next match give Arsenal the chance to level square in the 2020/21 Premier League season? Will North London be painted red or blue?
4. Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur
Wednesday 16th December 2020 at Anfield – 20:00
It was a difficult last season for Spurs who ended up finishing 7th in the Premier League table and losing both games against Liverpool. This season, however, Spurs appear to be back with a vengeance and the new additions of legend Gareth Bale and Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg seeming to provide a nice boost in the 2020/21 Premier League season so far.
Do Spurs have what it takes to conquer the former Premier League champions this time around?
Take a look at our football hospitality page for a list of the remaining fixtures for the 2020/21 Premier League season. As soon as the government allows fans to return to stadiums, we will update our hospitality options accordingly.
For further details about how football stadiums will be kept COVID-secure when fans can return, take a look at they ways in which stadiums will enforce social distancing measures.
The UEFA Champions League 2020/21 group stage draw took place on Thursday 1st October in Geneva and fans are in for a treat as some of the biggest names in European football are set to face off in the Group stages. Reigning Champions League winners Bayern Munich will go head to head against Atletico Madrid in Group A, Real Madrid are set to clash with Shakhtar Donetsk in Group B, whilst Group H looks particularly shocking!
2019 European Champions, Liverpool will be up against the likes of Ajax, who could be a potential threat to the Reds but then again, anything can happen! Take a look as we break down groups A-H of the UEFA Champions League 2020/21.
Group A consists of major football giants Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid as well as Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moskva.
Current Champions League winners Bayern Munich are set to take on Atletico Madrid in Bavaria, in what could be a challenging game. Amongst a few select others, this is one of the games which football fans are most looking forward to. Will Bayern go all the way for a second time?
Salzburg gave Liverpool a tough time last year, so there is the potential for the Austrians to become tough opponents as they take on the likes of Lokomotic Moskva.
Group B consists of an interesting mix of clubs including Real Madrid who will take on Shakhtar Donetsk as well as Internazionale and Mönchengladbach.
Real Madrid are certain to be tough opponents, having won the Champions League a record 13 times, with the last being during 2017/18.
Inter Milan Vice President, Javier Zanetti, believes that group stage draw is very balanced and is pleased with the pairing against Mönchengladbach. Time will tell if the draw is really as balanced as what it seems!
Group C includes 2019 Premier League Champions Manchester City who will face Porto as well as Olympiacos and Marseille.
Man City v Porto is certainly another game which football fans will eagerly await. It has been eight years since these two sides last played one another. It will definitely be interesting to witness the outcome of what is set to be a thrilling match!
Olympiacos v Marseille is equally another interesting pairing, given that the two sides have never played against each other in a competitive fixture. Who knows how this match will play out!
Group D looks to be another interesting mix with current Premier League champions Liverpool up against Ajax as well as Atalanta and Midtjylland.
The nation is undeniably awaiting to witness the action of Liverpool v Ajax. The Reds were phenomenal during the 2019/20 Premier League season – will the same magic be present during this year’s Champions League?
Atalanta are somewhat of an underdog within the Champions League but managed to make it to the final 8 during the 2019/20 Champions League. There is definitely potential for the Italians to make their mark this time around as they take on Midtjylland.
We look forward to seeing how Chelsea fair amongst their Group E opponents, which include Sevilla, as well as Krasnodar and Rennes.
Chelsea have managed to avoid some of the more challenging teams within the Champions League this year and The Blues will undoubtedly be looking to better last year’s performance where they were knocked out by Bayern Munich in the final 16. With a number of exciting new signings including Kai Havertz, Thiago Silva and Timo Werner, Lampard’s men have the potential to make serious waves this time around.
Group F includes the likes of Zenit versus Dortmund in addition to Lazio and Club Brugge.
This group could face some challenges given that it includes Russian Premier League champions, FC Zenit Saint Petersburg.
Borussia Dortmund have also experienced run-ins with all teams within the group over the years, with their previous Champions League clash against Club Brugge just two years ago.
Group G sees Juventus take on Barcelona as well as Dynamo Kyiv and Ferencváros.
This group looks to be particularly thrilling due to the fact that football fans will witness one of the greatest rivalries within the game – Cristiano Ronaldo up against Lionel Messi!
Ronaldo potentially has the slight edge against Messi as he has secured five Champions League successes in comparison to Messi’s four.
Group H is being labelled as the group of death, with the likes of Manchester United up against Leipzig as well as Paris and İstanbul Başakşehir.
Group H looks to be a tough mix of clubs with Man United paired against last year’s Champions League runners up Paris Saint-Germaine as well German giants, RB Leipzig and Turkish champions, Istanbul Basaksehir.
The reason for Man United’s fate seems to come down to a broadcasting rule that Liverpool will not play on the same night as United. Regardless, this group will certainly provide fans with some intense football action if nothing else.
We can’t wait to see the outcome of some of these 2020/21 Champions League fixtures and who will become the champion this time around!
The rapid rise in COVID-19 cases has paused developments of fans returning to stadiums from 1st October. Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove, confirmed last week that an October return would not go ahead as anticipated, stating that a mass return ‘would not be appropriate at this stage’.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s optimistic plans for a return to stadiums from 1st October was first revealed last July, providing a glimmer of hope amongst sports fans.
An imminent return of fans to stadiums began to seem doubtful as August saw multiple pilot events cancelled as a result of advancing COVID-19 fears. The government eventually stated earlier this month that plans for a return would be placed under review.
The disappointing news follows recently introduced tighter government restrictions, such as the ‘rule of six’ and 10 pm curfews. As COVID-19 concerns continue to evolve, what will the future be for fans and sporting events?
When will fans return to stadiums?
Given the rise in coronavirus fears, it is currently unclear as to when fans will be able to return to stadiums. However, Boris Johnson revealed that the restrictions could be in place for 6 months. The COVID-19 alert level has advanced to level 4, which is described as ‘high or rising exponentially’. Gove stated that the increasing number of COVID-19 cases means that the programme must be paused for now.
Gove declared that the future of sporting events must be evaluated with caution, whilst also recognising sport to be a vital part of our nation. ‘We’re looking at everything we can do to support our athletes, our great clubs, through what will be a challenging time.’
It was initially anticipated that stadiums could return to 30% capacity from 1st October. As the UK began to see a spike in COVID-19 cases, there were talks that capacity could be reduced to just 1,000 fans. MP Steve Brine has now said that it is unlikely that fans will return until the beginning of 2021 as a result of ‘stats going in the wrong direction’. Brine stated that although the sport is very much loved, it is ‘not essential’ and sacrifices have to be made this year.
The decision to delay the return of fans to stadiums has certainly encouraged mixed feelings amongst the British public. Many argued that the return of fans would be a threat to health and safety. On the contrary, West Ham chief, Karren Brady believes that just 1,000 fans in Premier League stadiums would be ‘safer than your living room’.
Will pilot events still go ahead?
It has been confirmed that the pilot events programme will also be paused as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
The news is particularly disappointing for football fans, given that last weekend saw eight EFL matches take place, each with 1,000 fans in attendance.
Although it had been declared that the return date of 1st October was under review, the EFL pilot scheme provided some much-needed optimism for football fans. The pilot matches were a step in the right direction and indicated that an imminent phased return could be possible.
The government made clear that fans returning to stadiums would only go ahead following a run of successful pilot events. Fans will be eagerly waiting for pilot events to resume, so that progressions for the return of fans can continue once again.
How has COVID-19 impacted the Premier League?
Naturally, the biggest concern amongst the sporting and hospitality industry is the financial loss that COVID-19 has inflicted. Clubs have been asked to forecast what economic impact the absence of fans in stadiums will have on their business.
EFL Chairman, Rick Parry, stated how EFL clubs face losing £25 million for every month that matches are played behind closed doors. Similarly, Premier League clubs will likely lose around £100 million each month if fans are unable to return to stadiums.
MP Steve Brine has stated that the government will look to support lower-level football but not Premier League clubs that pay stars £600,000-a-week.
Julian Knight, chair of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) stated how fans being unable to return to stadiums could decimate the nation’s sporting and cultural infrastructure. He called for smart solutions to be implemented to allow sports and live events to reopen gradually.
Unsurprisingly, the world of football is very frustrated by the government’s decision to pause the return to stadiums as planned. Clubs were working towards a return from 1st October as indicated, only for the government to pull back at the last minute. As a result, the Premier League clubs are set to meet this week to discuss the cash crisis as a result of fans being unable to return to stadiums. The Premier League are said to continue to press the government for a new estimated date as well as an ‘at the latest’ date for when fans can return.
The delay of fans returning to stadiums is a substantial disappointment to both sports fans and the sporting industry as a whole. Once again, the nation faces a time of uncertainty, as it remains unclear how and when the situation will improve.
Once the day in which it is safe to gather at sporting venues arrives, we will be there to provide you with exquisite hospitality experiences once again.