Before the 2020-21 season started, the hope some was for fans to return quickly albeit in limited numbers, with the most optimistic plans even suggesting there could be fans in the stands for the Community Shield between Liverpool and Arsenal as a test run.
That never happened, but when the season started, the hope was for fans to return by the start of October. We’re now at the end of that month and a return for the fans looks farther off than ever with cases of coronavirus on the rise in England and around the world.
Despite that, the Premier League and their member clubs insist that they’re continuing to explore ways to bring the fans back—and to ensure that when it is possible for them to start to return to stadiums, it can be done in a manner that’s safe for all involved.
“It was expected that the opening fixtures of the 2020-21 season would take place behind closed doors until at least October,” read a statement from the club today, “with the likelihood that stadiums would then initially operate at reduced capacity.
“As of the end of September, this plan was postponed due to increasing cases of COVID-19. However, we are continuing to work to ensure that when the time is right for spectators to return, we are in the best possible position to welcome fans back to Anfield.
“We are working on a number of new processes and systems, which will be introduced in the coming weeks, that will enable us to be properly prepared to welcome fans back to Anfield as safely and efficiently as possible when government guidelines allow.”
Given the current situation, it’s difficult to imagine any processes or systems that would make it possible for fans to return any time soon. Still, if the club does have a plan that doesn’t involve waiting for things to improve, it will be interesting to hear what it is.
Realistically, though, it seems unlikely at this stage that fans could return in any numbers in 2020, with it fair to wonder at this point if fans will be able to return at all this season and a return in the new year likely dependant on the formulation of a vaccine.