The coronavirus threw the world into chaos and not since the Spanish Flu in 1919 has daily life been as greatly affected. In March, the Premier League – like many of the sports leagues around the globe – went on hiatus. The Premier League returned in June providing fans with the top-flight football they had been missing.
Football’s return was very different than before its hiatus. When football matches were suspended in March, fans packed out Premier League stadiums on matchdays offering an unbeatable atmosphere. Since the league returned in July, every Premier League game has been played behind closed doors with fans banned from entering to watch first hand.
Social distancing rules are still in effect around England although restrictions have been reduced. On Saturday, July 4th, England’s restrictions on public gatherings were lessened with individuals able to go to pubs and restaurants. Rules are still in place to keep too many people from gathering, however. The reduction of restrictions has led many (including us, as a football tickets website) to wonder when Premier League matches will welcome fans back to games and when tickets to games will go on sale.
The answers to these questions are not easy to locate. The last thing the United Kingdom wants is a major outbreak. The United States is a good example of what can happen when the coronavirus curve is not flattened. A large number of businesses were allowed to reopen under public pressure and claims that the coronavirus was not as serious a problem as medical professionals stated. The US has seen an incredible spike in cases.
The UK can learn from this and with pubs and restaurants now open with restrictions in place on people entering the premises, it may not be long until football matches can welcome back fans. At least, a limited number of fans.
Poland as an example?
On June 19, Poland’s Ekstraklasa welcomed back supporters. The Polish government issued a recommendation allowing clubs to fill the stands up to 25%. A total of 4,600 fans were allowed to watch the Gornik Zabrze versus Korona Kielce match on June 19.
If such a rule was imposed in England, which it could, then a stadium such as Liverpool’s Anfield (capacity of 54,074) could allow 13,518 fans into the ground. The problem Premier League teams have is which supporters they would let into the ground. Would season ticketholders be allowed in or would the clubs hold a special lottery to select the fans able to go in to watch?
Right now, clubs are issuing refunds for tickets to games this season. Fans who had put down money for the 2020-21 season are likely to be getting that back or waiting to see what happens next. Recently, the UK saw a spike in coronavirus cases in Leicester. The result of the Leicester spike in virus cases could be due to public gatherings, which may push back the possibility of Premier League matches being open to fans once more.
Leicester saw a number of Black Lives Matter protests that are cited as part of the reason for the spike in new cases (900 confirmed). But it isn’t just the gatherings of protestors that may have led to the spike. The east side of Leicester was the epicentre of the recent outbreak with many old, terraced houses being a possible reason for the spread of the disease. The tight living spaces make it possible for coronavirus to spread like wildfire and having multi-generational families living in one house can make contracting the disease even more likely.
There is nothing unique about Leicester, however. Any city in the UK can experience a similar spike. Just go back to Liverpool’s Champions League second leg last-16 fixture against Atletico Madrid for proof. The city of Liverpool saw its deaths from coronavirus soar following the fixture when 54,000-plus fans were allowed into the stadium. Atletico Madrid fans were allowed to attend the match possibly adding to the spread of the disease. Spain had already seen European matches played behind closed doors to prevent the spread of the disease. Spain was heavily hit by the coronavirus and allowing fans to attend the game from the country was naive and resulted in a spike.
Liverpool’s title win, which saw fans celebrate in the streets of the city, could also lead to a spike in cases. With a disease such as coronavirus, it is difficult to predict how the near or distant future will pan out.
For now, it could be January 2021 before fans are allowed back into Premier League stadiums. When the German Bundesliga returned in May, disease experts confessed it could be after Christmas 2020 that supporters would be able to return to watch games live. As it stands, that could be the target for Premier League teams.
We at Football Tix are closely monitoring the situation and cannot wait to help fans get football tickets again, whether Premier League or La Liga. If you want to receive updates sign up to our mailing list below.