Premier League fire back at Boris Johnson’s decision to delay supporters’ return

The Premier League have written to the Government insisting the continued ban on fans attending games is costing clubs £100m a month and putting thousands of jobs at risk.

League bosses have been left frustrated after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed the decision to allow a number of supporters back into football and other sporting events following a spike in the Covid-19 virus.

Test events have been capped at 1,000 spectators – but football rulers believe this is not enough to discover if games can take place safely with small crowds in attendance.

A provisional date of October 1 has been set to allow a percentage of fans back into stadiums – depending on how bad the virus is.

Top flight clubs have now decided to postpone scheduled test events – and have warned the Government of the dire consequences to the national sport should the ban continue for months to come.

A Premier League spokesman said: "The Premier League has written to the Government to express its concern at the decisions taken to restrict, and potentially delay, the planned programme for the return of fans to football stadiums.

"With test events now capped at 1,000 supporters, we believe they will not provide any opportunity to properly test and evaluate measures designed to maximise fan safety.

"Therefore, Premier League clubs will defer holding test events until a sufficient number of fans are allowed back to enable thorough trials to take place.

"At 1,000 supporters, not only would there be little to learn from a test event, but each match would be heavily loss-making.

"For each month of the season without fans, more than £100 million is lost to football across the leagues, with consequent damage to the local and national economy. It also harms the employment prospects of more than 100,000 people whose jobs depend on matchday activities.

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"Our clubs have already prepared test events and can offer larger scale trials to prove it is possible to produce bio-secure, safe environments, as was proved through the successful delivery of 'Project Restart'.

"The Premier League recognises the ambition of Government's Operation Moonshot and will support the project's objectives to get fans back into stadiums.

"However, we believe measures are already available which would allow the safe return of fans and should also be activated now.

"As the Government begins its review of the October 1 date for the return of spectators to sport, the Premier League asks that the high safety standards which can be achieved by our clubs are fully taken into account before any decision is taken and that sport is not left behind other industries."

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