The Premier League has warned English football will lose £100 million ($128m) every month as a result of Government restrictions on fans attending games.
The league had been looking to welcome small numbers of fans back to a number of test events to gauge public safety amid the coronavirus pandemic but, with the number of fans capped at 1,000 per game by the Government, these tests have now been postponed.
In a public statement, a Premier League spokesperson said that 1,000 fans was not enough to properly test new fan safety measures, and would leave clubs making significant financial losses on each match.
In France, where the Ligue 1 season is already underway, a maximum of 5,000 fans are currently allowed into stadiums to watch matches, but Germany’s Bundesliga will remain behind closed doors until at least the end of October.
It had been hoped Premier League games could welcome fans back in October but such plans are now in doubt with Covid-19 infection rates rising in parts of England.
A Premier League spokesperson said: “The Premier League has written to Government today 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.
“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 1 October 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.”