Coronavirus spike: English club fears grow as government reviews fan return dates

September 10 – News of tough new coronavirus measures that make it illegal to socialise in groups of more than six in England, have sent financial shockwaves through the country’s professional clubs who fear that the return of fans to stadiums could be delayed beyond the planned October 1 date.

The government has said that it has no option but to review the October 1 date following a spike in coronavirus cases throughout the country.

Some Premier League clubs, including Spurs who have brand new corporate facilities to activate, have had requests to allow entry to a limited number fans this weekend turned down.

Spurs had asked for entry for 4,000 fans for their opener this weekend against Everton. Manchester United had requested 12,000 fans be admitted for their match against Crystal Palace on September 19 but that has also been turned down. Scotland is testing the admittance of 300 fans to SPL two matches this weekend.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters warned that its clubs face a combined loss of £1.25 billion based on £700 million from last season and £547 million from this season, assuming that stadiums are 25% full, according to the Times.

“The longer that fans are outside the stadiums the more significant the financial impact on clubs. There is perhaps a perception that the Premier League can perpetually withstand financial difficulties, but that isn’t the case. Our clubs lost £700 million in 2019-20 and that creates significant difficulties,” said Masters.

The impact is considerably greater on the EFL’s leagues and League One and League Two in particular with fears that the clubs who are reliant on gate revenue won’t be able to get games played.

The EFL is already looking for support from the Premier League and government of up to £250 million if that should happen. The Premier League has so far advanced £200 million to the EFL but a larger solidarity payment will be needed to help clubs already on the breadline survive any further prolonged shut down.

How big a  commitment to the wider English game the Premier League stakeholders (clubs) are – more than 50% are owned by non-English individuals or entities – will be an interesting test of national and football solidarity.

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