Spurs fans won’t return to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as swiftly as initially anticipated. Fans were hopeful of an imminent return to Spurs Stadium, following news of eight EFL pilot matches which took place last weekend.
However, a surge in COVID-19 cases means that fans will no longer return to stadiums from 1st October as planned. Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove today stated that a mass return to stadiums would ‘no longer be appropriate at this stage’.
Boris Johnson first revealed optimistic plans for a return to stadiums from 1st October last July, boosting hopes for Spurs fans everywhere.
A sudden return soon grew unlikely as August saw the cancellation of multiple pilot events due to a rise in coronavirus fears. It wasn’t until earlier this month that the government revealed that plans for an October return would need to be reviewed.
The news comes as a blow for Spurs fans and follows tighter government restrictions, such as the ‘rule of six’ and 10 pm curfews. As the nation enters yet another time of uncertainty as a result of coronavirus, what will the future hold for Spurs fans and the Premier League?
When will Tottenham Hotspur Stadium reopen?
It is uncertain as to when Spurs fans will once again be able to enter Tottenham Hotspur stadium. The COVID-19 alert level has now risen to a 4, which is defined as ‘high or rising exponentially’. The mounting cases of COVID-19 led Gove to declare that the programme must be ‘paused’ for the time being.
Gove went on to outline that the resumption of sporting events must be thoroughly assessed, whilst also being mindful that sports are an integral part of the UK. ‘We’re looking at everything we can do to support our athletes, our great clubs, through what will be a challenging time’ Gove said.
It was hoped that from 1st October, elite sporting venues could return at 30% capacity. As COVID-19 figures began to spike, there were rumours that entry would only be permitted for just 1,000 fans. MP Steve Brine has since revealed that he believes it is probable that fans won’t return to stadiums until the new year. He went on to say that whilst people love to watch sport, it is ‘not essential’.
The pause in the return of fans to stadiums has inspired mixed emotions amongst the British public. Some believe that a return of fans would threaten government health and safety guidelines. West Ham chief, Karren Brady, however, has stated that a Premier League stadium is likely to be ‘safer than your living room’.
When will pilot events resume?
Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has also brought about the suspension of the pilot events scheme. The pause in pilot events is particularly disappointing for Spurs fans, as the eight EFL pilot matches which took place last weekend provided some confidence of a looming return.
Whilst fans were aware that the 1st October return date was under review, the pilot matches hinted that a phased return could soon be possible, with each one hosting 1,000 fans.
The government highlighted that the return of fans in stadiums was entirely dependent on a run of successful pilot events. Spurs fans will, therefore, be anxious to see these reinstated so that developments for a return to Spurs stadium can resume once again.
The future for the Premier League
Undoubtedly, the biggest worry for the Premier League is the financial impact that COVID-19 has caused. Organisations have been instructed to forecast their financial losses as a direct result matches being played behind closed doors.
The Premier League has predicted that clubs are likely to lose around £100 million each month if fans do not return to stadiums soon. MP Steve Brine has indicated that the government will favour lower-level football clubs from a financial perspective, rather than ‘big Premier League clubs who pay footballers £600,000-a-week’.
Julian Knight, from Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) warned that the delayed return of fans could jeopardise the nation’s sporting and cultural infrastructure. He stated that smart solutions must be executed and for sports and live events to reopen slowly.
The prospect of not being able to return to Spurs stadium until next year is a great disappointment to both Spurs fans and the Premier League as a whole.
As soon as it is safe to return to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, we will be there to provide you with exquisite Spurs hospitality experiences once again.