Government Exploring Potential Return of Fans in December

Nov 17, 2020, 6:30 PM GMT
West Ham United v Manchester City - Premier League
The Premier League has been without fans since March | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The government is exploring the possibility of spectators returning to sports venues in some parts of England from as early as December.

As coronavirus cases slowed during the summer, there was initially hope for fans to return to stadia in October. But, the second wave of the virus delayed those plans indefinitely and Premier League clubs had resigned themselves to the possibility of no supporters throughout the 2020/21 campaign.

The Official Nike Premier League Match Ball
Premier League clubs has previously been pessimistic regarding the potential return of fans this season | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Aside from a handful of test events, stadiums have been closed to football fans in the UK since March when the pandemic gripped the country.

However, the BBC now reports a positive update.

They understand that it's a 'personal priority' of Prime Minister Boris Johnson to open sporting venues to fans once again, and the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) is now working on allowing fans into stadia in areas where rates of infections are deemed sufficiently low - possibly before Christmas.

It's believed that officials are becoming increasingly keen to establish a plan that would enable a phased return of fans in Tier One and possibly Tier Two areas of the country - proving the second nationwide lockdown is lifted, as hoped, on 2 December.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson is keen to see the return of supporters in stadia across the country | Leon Neal/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the government said it had held 'constructive' talks with football leaders over various issues including the possible return of fans.

A debate, meanwhile, was held in UK parliament last Monday afternoon after a petition calling for the return of spectators garnered close to 200,000 signatures.

However, fears do remain that opening stadia could lead to a greater risk of transmission.

"Everyone's saying, 'can I get back to my stadium?'" Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said last week.

Arsenal FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League
The sight of supporters in Premier League stadia will be a welcome return | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

"You times that by multiple levels, leagues and sports, and all of a sudden we've got a whole scale far beyond what is acceptable at this moment in time."

There does seem to have been a shift in government approach, however, which is a huge boost for the UK sporting world.