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When Can We Go Back?

The Premier League fixtures are out for next season. The champions, Liverpool, are at home to newly promoted Leeds in 3 weeks time, which is a bit bizarre given that the Champions League final hasn’t been played yet. Manchester United and Manchester City have been given an extra week’s rest after their European competition exertions. Spurs have a tricky run in November. Etc.

With the 20-21 season just around the corner, we still don’t know when and how fans will be allowed back into stadiums at any level above tier 7 of the football pyramid. Are you enthused and excited about the new season? More games on TV with canned crowd noise. It’s just not the same.

It’s a fact that we’re living in a very strange time but this particular football fan simply can’t process how it’s been decreed that people can sit in an air conditioned cinema but it’s not yet safe to visit a fractionally full football stadium.

The argument against fans returning to football grounds seems to be based on the supposed impossibility of social distancing and weak bladders. If you’ve ever been to a lower league game, or even a League Cup game at The Etihad, then you’ll know that social distancing in football stadiums isn’t that difficult. With regards to the issue of fans crowding into unsanitised toilets, football fans don’t HAVE to drink when they go to a game. Ask fans whether they’d accept a dry stadium if it meant that they could watch their team play and most would make that sacrifice. Without a few pints inside you it should be practical to get through a football match without needing to visit the facilities. It would be a bit like going to the cinema with the intention of getting through the whole film uninterrupted.

The safety of the fans, the staff, the players and anyone else in a stadium, of course, has to be the absolute priority. But if it’s safe to go and watch an old James Bond movie in a confined space then surely there’s a way that people can stand or sit outside while a football match takes place several metres away from them?