Column: The Return of Football Fans in the UK: When will it happen and why it needs to happen?

5 November 2020

Stadium
Photo: PA Images "Football stadiums benefit from being outdoors - therefore, with the right social distancing measures in place, there seems no reason to prevent spectators from returning," argues two football finance experts from Sheffield Hallam University.

As England enters a second national lockdown (from 5th November to 2nd December) those of us interested in footballs finances look again at the precarious financial situation facing many professional football clubs.

In a recently published article, co-authored with other leading academics in the field, we argue for the safe return of football fans to stadiums, when possible, following strict social distancing guidelines.

The idea that fans could be locked out for the entire 2020/21 season is likely to lead to some clubs going out of business but there is also a wider economic and social impact.

Dr. Dan Plumley and Dr. Rob Wilson, Sheffield Hallam University contact@offthepitch.com

Covid-19 shines a spotlight on the instability of English football’s finances. Many of the professional clubs in England’s football pyramid on the brink of financial collapse. Yet, a host of clubs were struggling before the global health crisis desperately needing a cash injection. Indeed, since the formation of the English Premier League (EPL) in 1992 and the lucrative broadcasting revenues that have followed, the financial gap between the ‘bigger’ clubs and the rest has continued to grow.

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