World News – GB – Crowdless madness: fans sitting in cinemas but not in stands is nonsense


There could not be a greater symbol of government inconsistencies around their continued refusal to allow football fans to return to the pitch than the wicked situation that has unfolded in London’s East End Saturday

Apparently he wasn’t sure he was watching West Ham United play Manchester City at the 60,000-seat London stadium, but it was good to watch the game in a dark room in a cinema indoor 1,100 meters in the center of Westfield Stratford

Alright too, it seems, for former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to hold a Q&A in a crowded London Palladium as he promotes a new autobiography, but not for fans of the League One and Two clubs in difficulty show up in limited numbers on a match day

« This perfectly illustrates the absolute nonsense of the situation, » said Lord Pendry, President of the Football Federation, exasperated, no doubt to nods across the country by supporters who, frankly, , have long been used to powers that raise two fingers in their direction

In the Premier League, the English Football League and clubs across the country, they are collectively scratching their heads in frustration and wondering what more can be done to try to persuade ministers that the game in this country can welcome supporters again in a safe, bio-secure way

No one is blind to the challenges and the need to do everything to protect the health and safety of the public, which is why they have devoted so much time and resources to creating an environment that does these two things

But they examine how small crowds were allowed to return, to varying degrees, to more than 20 European countries and wonder how a nation with some of the continent’s best stadiums could be so far behind, still waiting for the green light of a government without commitment And all this time, the clubs continue to bleed

Downing Street’s concerns about fan optics returning to a time when they are encouraging the public to observe stricter lockdowns are all good, but they look a lot better than the clubs in bankrupt football which, without an emergency rescue, seems more and more inevitable

A petition to allow supporters to return to stadiums will be debated in Parliament on November 9 after drawing nearly 200,000 signatures but it is still a fortnight away and, as clubs have managed to bite their lip in overall, the frustration begins to peak

This was certainly evident in Ed Woodward’s voice on Wednesday as Manchester United’s executive vice-president pleaded with the government to address the inconsistencies that allow « people to sit on a plane for hours, or cinema, or even to watch football in a cinema « but not an outdoor stadium managed and controlled by professionals

A glimpse this week of what a Covid matchday might look like at Old Trafford certainly got you wondering how England aren’t, at the very least, hosting comebacks from trial fans like Germany, Italy, France and other countries

Like many clubs, United have spent the past two months planning every detail of the safe return of supporters with reduced capacity, right down to supporters being given time slots to arrive at the turnstiles From there, they would have their temperature checked by staff and have them scan their match ticket, ideally directly from their phone, which would have been sent to them in advance.

Fans will need to have downloaded the NHS testing and tracing app, wearing photo ID and going through random checks Face masks will be mandatory – it remains to be seen whether they will need to be worn throughout the match – social distancing enforced and strict one-way systems in effect At the final whistle, fans are expected to stay in their seats while stewards coordinate staggered departures

Food kiosks are unlikely to be open at Old Trafford, although that could change, with some clubs, like Brighton, considering having stadium staff deliver food and drink directly to fan seats

A five-minute video documenting match-day procedures and protocols would be made available and the stadium and the immediate vicinity would be covered with posters and signs providing further information

It sounds clinical and, in reality, it has to be, but United have made over 200,000 calls to supporters spanning over 10,000 hours of talk time over the past few months, eager to hear the wishes, everyone’s needs and concerns

The club were ready to attempt the return of 12,000 fans to their first Premier League home game against Crystal Palace last month before those plans were shelved Crowd consultants were brought in to perform a modeling analysis and found that Old Trafford could accommodate around 23,500 fans at a safe distance – 32% of its capacity

United’s annual accounts, released this week, revealed that the Covid-19 crisis cost the club up to £ 71million in lost revenue by the end of June, a figure that will continue increase as long as Old Trafford is empty Sympathy, of course, will be stifled for Britain’s richest club, especially given the willingness of their owners, the Glazers, to continue to accept a big dividend and the role of the Americans, alongside Liverpool, in the perceived empowerment of Project Big Picture

Yet their fans are no different from others in that they want a safe return to the stadiums, just as the club have a fundamental role to play in the social and economic vitality of the area they dessert, just like Grimsby, Mansfield or any of the other parts of the country

Marketing Manchester estimated that between the start of the foreclosure in March and August, Greater Manchester lost £ 4.2bn in revenue normally generated by the visitor economy And when you consider Ernst & Young’s research on the economic and social impact of the Premier League in January last year pointed out that football contributed £ 1.2bn of ‘gross value added’ to Greater Manchester in 2016/17, it’s hard to overestimate the importance to the local economy of United and its Manchester City neighbors of welcoming fans through their doors

History is reflected across the country A study by VisitBritain in June of last year found that football in the UK attracts over 800,000 international visitors a year, thanks to which £ 684million was raised. been spent

For the time being, however, clubs would just pass a handful of fans through.After all, if an indoor cinema is allowed to house them, it seems absurd that an outdoor stadium cannot

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Premier League, Norwich City FC, West Ham United FC, EFL Championship

News from around the world – GB – Crowdless madness: fans sitting in cinemas but not in the pits is nonsense


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