REVEALED: Attendances at sports venues could initially be capped at just 1,000 fans regardless of stadium capacity in a move that would prompt a backlash from the Premier League
- Numbers at sports venues would initially be capped at 1,000 in latest proposals
- Downing Street considering plans put forward by DCMS for fans to attend games
- It is understood working proposals included limit of just 1,000 fans per venue
Attendances at sports venues would initially be capped at just 1,000 regardless of stadium capacity under controversial proposals for the return of fans.
Downing Street is considering plans put forward by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for supporters to attend games in areas with low coronavirus infection rates as soon as next month.
But Sportsmail understands the working proposals included a limit of just 1,000 fans per venue – which would prompt a backlash from the Premier League and some of the bigger EFL clubs.
Numbers at sports venues would initially be capped at 1,000 regardless of stadium capacity
In September, when the Government capped pilot events at 1,000 fans before scrapping them altogether, the Premier League refused to partake, writing in a letter: ‘At 1,000 supporters, not only would there be little to learn from a test event, but each match would be heavily loss-making.’
Now the latest plans threaten to spark the same row, with a group of northern Conservative MPs urging No 10 to introduce a ‘sliding scale’ based on capacity instead.
The Northern Research Group have been lobbying the Government for the return of fans for weeks and wrote a letter to DCMS on Monday in conjunction with 12 northern football clubs, including Sunderland and Blackburn.
Fans haven’t been allowed to attend regular Premier League or EFL matches since March
They appeared to make a breakthrough on Monday night when Prime Minister Boris Johnson told them on a call: ‘I pledge that when we come out of lockdown on December 2 we will work to have the crowds come back.’
Speaking in the House of Commons, the PM confirmed: ‘We hope to get crowds back in the ground as soon as possible.’
As first revealed by Sportsmail on Tuesday, the plans submitted by DCMS would see some spectators being allowed to attend games in areas in Tier 1 of the local Covid-19 restrictions , as well as potentially Tier 2.
However, the Government are yet to decide exactly how their tiered system will work once the current national lockdown has ended, with some suggestion that all areas would fall into at least Tier 2.
Former FA chairman David Bernstein, who was at a meeting of football leaders which involved Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden on Tuesday, said: ‘We have to be realistic and I suspect, if it happens, it will be a fairly small number of fans in areas that have a lower problem with the rate of Covid. I wouldn’t be overly optimistic but clearly everybody wants this is as soon as possible.’
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has been concerned about the coronavirus infection rate