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    Petition to bring football fans back into stadiums passes 100,000 signatures – forcing the topic back into parliamentary debate as Premier League and EFL keep the pressure on

    • The petition ‘allow football fans to attend matches at all levels’ had over 135,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning
    • Once petitions pass 100,000 parliament must consider whether to debate the issue in the House of Commons
    • The EFL and dozens of clubs have given their backing to the petition
    • It came after the Premier League issued an open letter to Boris Johnson
    • Currently, clubs in the top six levels of English football aren’t allowed crowds 

    A petition urging the Government to reconsider allowing football fans back inside stadiums has passed the 100,000 signatory mark required for a parliamentary debate.

    The ‘Allow football fans to attend matches at all levels’ motion received backing from the EFL and a large number of clubs on social media.

    At present, Covid-19 restrictions mean clubs at Premier League, EFL and National League level are not allowed to admit spectators into matches.

    The petition urging the Government to ‘allow football fans to attend matches at all levels’ passed the 100,000 signature threshold for parliament to consider debating the issue

    Premier League, EFL and National League clubs are hoping to get fans back into stadiums soon in a Covid-secure way

    Premier League, EFL and National League clubs are hoping to get fans back into stadiums soon in a Covid-secure way

    Premier League games have continued to go ahead behind-closed-doors without any fans

    Premier League games have continued to go ahead behind-closed-doors without any fans

    Only non-League clubs at the seventh level of the English football pyramid and below are allowed fans inside grounds and often only at limited capacities.

    The number of people who had signed the petition had surpassed the 135,000 mark on Wednesday morning.

    Any motion that gets above the 100,000 level will be considered for debate by MPs in the House of Commons.

    The Government’s initial plan was to see clubs welcome a reduced crowd back to matches from October 1 with a desire to limit the financial damage caused due to lost matchday revenue.

    But a rise in coronavirus cases saw the plan shelved despite a number of successful pilot events at EFL matches.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled the original October 1 return date for football clubs to welcome a reduced capacity crowd back to stadiums due to rising coronavirus case numbers

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled the original October 1 return date for football clubs to welcome a reduced capacity crowd back to stadiums due to rising coronavirus case numbers

    There are concerns for clubs further down the leagues who are losing matchday revenue

    There are concerns for clubs further down the leagues who are losing matchday revenue

    There was outcry when it was revealed the Royal Albert Hall’s programme of Christmas events was to go ahead with 3,000 in the audience at the 5,272-capacity indoor venue in London.

    The parliamentary petition, created by Ashley Greenwood, reads: ‘Football is a powerful tool of which allows a range of benefits such as employment, and other important aspects of life.

    ‘Football can be associated with passion, emotion, excitement and dedication across the community. With Fans attending football games a range of economic benefits are there too.

    ‘Due to the current issues around COVID places such as France and Germany now allow a percentage of fans to return to football games.

    ‘I ask for the support of this petition as I fear that smaller clubs in particular will go out of business leading to a devastating effect on people.

    Royal Albert Hall have announced a Covid-secure programme is to be run over Christmas

    Royal Albert Hall have announced a Covid-secure programme is to be run over Christmas

    ‘This petition is to ask the government to reconsider their judgement on not letting football fans back into the stadiums and reconsider doing this with the right safety measures in place surrounding the COVID-19.’

    It came as the Premier League called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the rest of Government to show consistency in decision made over spectators at public events after the arts sector was permitted limited crowds.

    ‘We will continue to urge Government to allow us to return fans safely to stadiums,’ the letter, which was signed by Richard Masters, Premier League chief executive, David Baldwin, EFL chief executive, Mark Bullingham, FA chief executive and Kelly Simmons, FA director of Women’s Professional Game, read.

    ‘It is positive progress that major arts and music venues have been told they can run socially-distanced events indoors. And now football should be allowed to do the same – in highly regulated and stewarded outdoor environments.

    ‘We are determined to identify a path forward with Government. We need clarity for our clubs and for you as supporters as to what the roadmap for change in this area looks like.

    An expert group is studying whether Germany's model of fans in stadiums can work in England

    An expert group is studying whether Germany’s model of fans in stadiums can work in England

    ‘We all know why caution is needed, and we ask Government for consistency in their policy so sport is treated as fairly as other activities currently allowed to welcome spectators.’

    Earlier this week it was reported that an expert group set up by the Government are studying whether Germany’s system of allowing fans into sports events can be used in England.

    Tens of thousands of fans have been allowed back in to Bundesliga football games over the past fortnight, with 11,500 supporters attending Borussia Dortmund’s 4-0 victory against Freiburg on Saturday – a stark contrast to the shutout in England and Wales.

    ‘In light of the postponement of test events we will intensify our efforts to pioneer new approaches – working with epidemiologists, scientists and medical experts in areas such as public health, clinical processes and occupational hygiene,’ the open letter continued.

    ‘This will make sure stadiums are COVID-safe by considering best-practice screening and hygiene methods to ensure that fans and the general public will be safe and drive the Government’s sporting plans to move faster.’

    PREMIER LEAGUE OPEN LETTER TO SUPPORTERS IN FULL 

    The Premier League, EFL, The FA, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship want to assure all fans that together we are fully committed to your safe return to football grounds as soon as possible.

    The health of the nation remains our overriding priority, and for many months we have been working with experts to make our grounds as safe as, if not safer than, any other public activity currently allowed. And we are consulting with the Football Supporters’ Association to keep supporters updated every step of the way.

    We know attendance at matches can play a positive role in people’s lives during these challenging times. And the past few months have shown how clubs can still feel the support of their fans.

    Even when you have been unable to get together, you and your clubs have found ways to make a difference in your communities, with clubs delivering food parcels, taking part in phone calls and online conversations with fans, the elderly and vulnerable and moving services and programmes online to make a difference in unprecedented and challenging circumstances.

    But we all know football is not the same without fans. Every player and manager is missing the direct connection with you and the impact that you have on our games.

    Successful test events

    With the EFL, Premier League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship already staging 11 successful test events recently, we have demonstrated that we can deliver matches safely. The sooner we can return, the sooner we can reunite communities and support local jobs, livelihoods, regional businesses and also the national economy.

    We will continue to urge Government to allow us to return fans safely to stadiums. It is positive progress that major arts and music venues have been told they can run socially-distanced events indoors. And now football should be allowed to do the same – in highly regulated and stewarded outdoor environments.

    Additionally, representatives from football are active members of the Government’s Sports Technology and Innovation Group, as well as being involved with their ‘Moonshot’ mass-testing project to open up the economy.

    And in light of the postponement of test events we will intensify our efforts to pioneer new approaches – working with epidemiologists, scientists and medical experts in areas such as public health, clinical processes and occupational hygiene. This will make sure stadiums are COVID-safe by considering best-practice screening and hygiene methods to ensure that fans and the general public will be safe and drive the Government’s sporting plans to move faster.

    Reducing risk of transmission

    Stadium environments can be modified and carefully managed. Measures could include screening spectators before they enter the ground, installing temperature checks, requiring masks to be worn, one-way systems and providing a code of conduct for all those attending on a matchday. This will all be bolstered by deep-cleaning practices to help further reduce the risk of virus transmission.

    Clubs want to be pro-active on this matter and are willing to consider measures both in the stadium and on the approach that will allay any concerns as to fans’ safety.

    From a travel perspective, clubs will work closely with experts and local authorities to model solutions relevant for each stadium to ease pressure on public transport, while extra parking facilities could be available so a greater proportion of you can travel by private car or bicycle.

    We are determined to identify a path forward with Government. We need clarity for our clubs and for you as supporters as to what the roadmap for change in this area looks like.

    We all know why caution is needed, and we ask Government for consistency in their policy so sport is treated as fairly as other activities currently allowed to welcome spectators.

    So, we will continue to urge the relevant authorities to let us, together, use innovative ways to bring fans safely back into football grounds, starting with a return of the test event programme. If we do so, then the benefits will be felt not just by fans but throughout society and the economy.

    Richard Masters, Premier League Chief Executive

    David Baldwin, EFL Chief Executive

    Mark Bullingham, FA Chief Executive

    Kelly Simmons, FA Director of Women’s Professional Game

     

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