The South Stand at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Petition to Let Fans in Stadiums is Debated in Parliament

Spurs fans were hopeful when a petition, which now has nearly 200,000 signatories, called for fans to return to football stadiums amid COVID-19 last month.

Last week the petition in question was debated in parliament, and despite pleas from multiple MPs, little answers were provided.

During the debate, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston, stated intentions for fans to return to football stadiums as soon as it is safe to do so but failed to provide a specific timeframe.

However, hope is once again on the horizon, as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has since submitted a proposal for fans to return to football stadiums in December in low-risk areas. This is incredibly exciting news for the Spurs community, all of whom will be eagerly awaiting to see if the government sign off on the proposal.

Spurs fans have been unable to fully cheer on the Lilywhites in person since games began being played behind closed doors in March. 

The closest fans have come to experiencing Spurs so far this season is when 200 fans were able to enter Tottenham Hotspur stadium last month to view a socially distanced screened match between Tottenham v Burnley.  Although a step in the right direction, Spurs fans are desperate to fully support Mourinho’s men, as well as avert further financial stress to the club.

Find out what was covered in the parliamentary debate for spectator attendance and when Spurs fans can expect to return to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

What was discussed in the debate to let fans back in stadiums?

All MPs who were involved in the debate highlighted the substantial financial concerns that will continue to rise if fans are prevented from returning to football stadiums further. The capability of stadiums to operate social distancing measures was also emphasised.

Whilst Huddleston recognised the concerns of MPs; he was unable to provide a timeline of when football fans could expect to return to stadiums due to current rates of infection. He went on to specify that his intention was for fans to return to all elite sports and not just football.

Huddleston argued that the government also needs to evaluate the journey of fans travelling to stadiums as this could potentially accelerate the rate of transmission.

The Sports Minister went on to highlight that another trial of the return of fans to stadiums was that multiple leagues and sports could create a rapid scale far beyond what the government sees as acceptable for now. 

Following comments from multiple MPs, it was also recognised that a ‘one size fits all’ solution for fans returning to stadiums would not be feasible and is something that the government is ‘looking into’.

The resumption of pilot events

Shadow Sports Minister Alison McGovern questioned when pilot events would resume, following the success of multiple events over the past few months.

Despite their success, pilot events have been paused as a result of increased COVID-19 cases causing the date for fans to return from 1st October to be postponed.

In response to McGovern’s question, Huddleston simply stated that the government had to press the pause button on pilot events and assured that the government plans to recommence as soon as possible. 

It was also highlighted by McGovern that football appears to have been put on the backburner compared to cultural events. 

Disappointment ensued when football fans discovered that 2,500 people were given permission to attend Christmas events at the Royal Albert Hall. The government’s defense was that concerts do not occur as regularly as football matches, which require fans to potentially travel up and down the country on a frequent basis.

Will the government financially support elite sports?

Huddleston stated his belief that football on an elite level should ‘look after itself’ financially. He commented that elite football has plenty of money, but is not distributed correctly.

It was confirmed that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are in the process of finalising a rescue package for other sports who have been financially hurt by COVID-19.

Conservative MP Julian Knight highlighted that EFL teams that depend on ticket revenues are now in a very difficult position.  

He highlighted the risk that 10 – 15 EFL clubs could potentially collapse if action wasn’t taken soon, and commented how 10 EFL clubs are at risk of being unable to make their November payroll.

To emphasise the difference between the EFL and the Premier League, Knight mentioned that only 17% of Chelsea’s revenue comes from ticket sales, and cited the Premier League’s £9 billion television deal.

Concerns for the EFL follow reports that they rejected a £50 million bailout from the Premier League, on the basis that these funds were not enough to cover their costs.

The future for football fans during COVID-19

Spurs fans will eagerly await to see if the dream of returning to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in December will become a reality. With the UK’s second lockdown set to end in December and reports that a vaccine could be available before Christmas, it’s hopeful that fans could return sooner rather than later.

Whilst an imminent return for Spurs fans remains uncertain, it’s promising that progress is being made in terms of tackling the virus.

As soon as COVID-19 cases begin to fall, it is likely that the government will allow pilot events to continue once again for other elite sporting events.

Until then, it looks as though Spurs fans will have to wait in anticipation to see if they can soon enter Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. COYS!