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FA warns of ‘huge’ impact of virus restrictions on English football

London (AFP) – The Football Association has warned new coronavirus restrictions will have a “huge” impact on the game, with clubs facing the bleak prospect of six more months in empty stadiums.

A plan to bring fans back into English sports venues on a socially distanced basis from October 1 has been scrapped because of fears over rising infection numbers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the measures announced on Tuesday could stay in place for six months.

It is a devastating blow to sporting organisations, many of whom rely heavily on match-day revenue for survival, and there have been calls from governing bodies for emergency funding.

The FA said financial help was vital to help clubs survive.

“We understand the government’s decision, as the health of the nation is the priority,” the FA said in a statement. “However, it is important to recognise that the impact on football will be huge.

“Clubs up and down the country are really struggling, and many will have been looking forward to crowds coming back in order to provide much-needed income during these difficult times. Many, at all levels of the game, are battling to survive.”

The FA said it welcomed the government’s commitment to providing financial support for clubs and would continue to work with ministers on a return of crowds.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden met with representatives from a wide range of sports on Tuesday to hold further talks on the financial impact of the restrictions.

Johnson said on Wednesday that the department was “in active consultations with clubs across the country to see what we can do to help”.

“It grieves me to see football clubs… not able to go back in the way they want to right now,” he told MPs. “And I have total sympathy with… the fans. I really wish we did not have to do this.”

The English Football League says its 72 clubs stand to lose £200 million without fans for the whole of the 2020/21 season. Club chairmen said they expected clubs to go under without immediate action.

The Premier League warned of the “devastating impact” the continued absence of supporters was having on its clubs and communities.

“Last season, Premier League clubs suffered £700 million in losses and at present, our national game is losing more than £100 million per month,” it said in a statement. 

The Rugby Football Union and Jockey Club also called for government aid while cricket chiefs warned the continuing absence of fans would have a “severe” impact.

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  1. jason

    September 23, 2020 at 9:11 am

    English football clubs from the 3rd division (league one) on down are going to have to weather this storm big time. Its getting worse and worse for them. And enough of the “its for the safety of the public” garbage. Its all rubbish at this point in time.

  2. jason

    September 23, 2020 at 9:09 am

    How about this all you hack politicians. Let grown ups make their own decisions instead of forcing lockdown and mask mandates on us.

    • Yespage

      September 23, 2020 at 10:01 am

      Well, when the southern US states made those type of “grown up” decisions hospitals got saturated and there were several thousand more deaths and the US is now plateau’ing at around 40k a day (and that is with Texas under-testing) instead of the 20k a day it was before the idiotic re-opening in the south.

      Simply put, new cases go up, with more people interacting together. And the rate this bug spreads, it is out of hand before you see it.

    • Ritchie

      September 23, 2020 at 10:07 am

      Leaders get paid and elected to lead, so I can see how everything shouldn’t always be left up to the individual.

      What I don’t get is why indoor gatherings are allowed at bars and pubs, while outdoor spectating is being curtailed. Prolonged indoor exposure seems to be a catalyst for spread and limited fans at outdoors games seemingly could be done safely.

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