Watching footage of sporting events from the beforetime when the coronavirus pandemic was yet to turn the world upside down feels like reliving a bygone era. We all stood in the Kop, shoulder-to-shoulder, arms clasped, children perched on their parents’ shoulders, reminding the world with gusto that we’ll never walk alone, oblivious of the extent to which that sentiment would be tested in the chaos that lay ahead.
Eventually, a vaccine against COVID-19 will arrive; and in due course, enough of us will do our duty as global citizens to achieve the herd immunity needed to stamp out the last vestiges of the virus. For sports fans, the question will then become whether we will ever fully return to the way things were. Will we as sports-loving fans truly feel that same comfort in the physical presence of a stranger?
It is a question that is certainly low on the list of problems society faces in the current moment as governments continue to navigate the public health crisis. Nevertheless, these are issues that will crop up as the pandemic dissipates and norms emerge in the coming weeks and months pertaining to mass social gatherings.
An insight into what could be the new normal, is the plan that hosts RB Salzburg revealed to allow fans into the stadium for their upcoming preseason friendly with Liverpool. The Austrian club has attempted to strike a balance between public safety and supporter’s desires to watch their club by announcing a raffle on their website selecting 1,250 Salzburg fans to attend the match in the 31,895 capacity Red Bull Arena.
On 25 August in front of 1250 spectators at the Red Bull Arena!
We will stick to our ‘loyalty pays’ motto and give our season-ticket holders the opportunity to win tickets for the match.
All holders of a season ticket will receive a newsletter by email with a link they can click on to register for the ticket draw. Registrations must be made by Tuesday 18 August by midnight Austrian time. Every winner will receive two tickets in order to invite another season-ticket holder with them.
Sporting events the world over, by and large, continue to prohibit fan attendance as public health authorities emphasize the importance of social distancing guidelines. However, financial pressures and the fresh start of a new European football season will push leagues to find ways to safely allow fans back into stadiums, with current Premier League proposals planning for an October resumption of supporter participation. Any measures implemented will be watched closely in the hope that we can begin the long journey to some semblance of normalcy.