Villa Park could be empty until March 2021 after the government announced plans for football fans to return to stadiums will be put on hold.
The prime minister discussed new safety measures in the House of Commons that will affect the UK with an official announcement due at 8.00 pm this evening.
Football was gearing up for supporters to return to stadiums as early as next month. Villa were hopeful of around 10,000 supporters returning to Villa Park for the clash against Leeds United on October 24th.
Pause on the return of fans
Cabinet minister Michael Gove confirmed earlier today while speaking to the BBC that the government had plans to pause staged reintroduction of supporters to major sporting events.
“We’re looking at how we can pause that programme”
Michael Gove MP reveals on #BBCBreakfast the government are planning to postpone the return of fans to sporting events, which was due to start on 1st October.https://t.co/DffEzO8ap4 pic.twitter.com/1AKI74yMfv
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) September 22, 2020
Villa may now have to wait until March next year before they are allowed to have fans back inside Villa Park.
Borris Johnson explained that the new restrictions are provisionally in place for the next six months, although it is still unclear why some activities are limited and others aren’t.
Football clubs and supporters alike will be hoping that the restrictions are lifted sooner rather than later but with COVID-19 cases back on the rise in the UK, the new guidelines will need to be followed.
Football bodies issue statements
The Football Supporters’ Association released the following statement:
“The FSA has written to the Government to stress how important it is that we start to allow fans back into games. Feedback from our members at test events has confirmed high levels of compliance with all the health and safety measures put in place, and that they felt safer at games than they have done in many other social situations.
“Having fans at games is of course not only important to the lives of supporters, it is also crucial to the survival of so many clubs who play a crucial role within their communities. A combination of revenue at the ground and government support is urgently needed to keep clubs going. The Government has to listen to fans and football clubs on this one.”
The Premier League also released a similar statement discussing the economic impact of stadiums without fans across all the divisions. The statement read:
“The Premier League notes the Government’s announcement today and while the health of the nation must remain everyone’s priority, we are disappointed that the safe return of supporters to matches has been postponed.
“The Premier League is certain that, through League-wide guidelines and a code of conduct developed with scientific experts and agreed by the Government’s Sports Ground Safety Authority, fans in stadiums will be as safe or even safer than at any other public activity currently permitted. This is already evident in other European leagues.
“Football is not the same without attending fans and the football economy is unsustainable without them. Last season, Premier League clubs suffered £700m in losses and at present, our national game is losing more than £100m per month. This is starting to have a devastating impact on clubs and their communities.
“We are confident that Premier League clubs, using innovative ways to get supporters safely back into grounds, will enable revenues to return to all levels of the game, as well as maintain solidarity arrangements, current tax contributions and financial support for local and national economies.
“While there is a current pause in a date for fans returning to sports venues, the Premier League and our clubs will not slow down in our preparations for providing safe, bio-secure environments. We will continue to work with Government to bring supporters safely back into grounds as soon as possible.”