On Wednesday, Premier League football returned. On Sunday, Liverpool will resume their potentially record-breaking 2019-20 season. And in September, when the 2020-21 season is tentatively scheduled to begin, fans could begin to return to stadiums.
That at least is the hope and goal for the British government and football’s governing bodies in England, who have accepted a return for the fans during the resumed, current season is impossible but think that in three months the situation could change.
“I would really hope that by the return of the new season we might be in a position whereby some fans could start to return,” said culture secretary Oliver Dowden at a press briefing when asked whether there is a timeline for allowing fans at live events.
While some fans may be able to return before a vaccine for coronavirus is found and while the threat of a second wave remains high, the some here is key—even when fans do start to come back to football, we won’t be seeing full stadiums any time soon.
Access will initially be limited to ensure fans can maintain distance between each other, and the prospect of requiring a recent negative test for coronavirus has also been proposed as part of the framework for a potential return of fans in September.
“We’re looking at loads of options,” said FA CEO Mark Bullingham when asked by The Guardian about Dowden’s statement. “We’re getting people to map out what traffic flows look like in stadia, explore what it could look like with social distancing.”
For now, though, we’ll have to content ourselves with the fact that football, even without fans, is back—and to hope the government’s handling of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will get us to a place where the fans can begin to return soon.