English football season likely to be played in reduced capacity stadiums until 2021

This year has been tough for the sports industry. In March, many sports events have been either canceled or postponed like the EPL, the NBA, the IPL, and many more because of the pandemic. It took a few months before sports events were allowed to come back.

The German Bundesliga returned in May, while the rest of this year’s EPL returned in June and concluded in August. Currently, the next season of the EPL is already scheduled to take place in September even if the UEFA Champions League just concluded last week. The UEFA Women’s Champion’s League is also ongoing.

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This is why many betting websites like bettingonline.co.uk offer odds on football right now and once other football leagues are back on, you can expect most bookies will also offer odds for those matches. It has been a few months since everyone has taken a break from sports, but now that sports events are now allowed in most of Europe, then now is simply an exciting time for many football fans.

Now, since May, when the German Bundesliga returned, many protocols have been implemented to ensure the safety of everyone. One of the major changes in the fact that sports events are now only allowed to take place behind closed doors. This means that no fans will be allowed in the stadiums and people can only watch live via online streams and live broadcasts on television.

This move is understandable and this protocol is likely to remain until governments would allow fans to go back to the stadiums. When that will remain unknown. The medical adviser of the Premier League, Mark Gillett only said that it is likely that things will remain the same for up to a year.

Gillett said:

It’s very clear the public and social health situation is not going to change in the next six to 12 months.

Sky Sports shared that the Premier League may introduce a system or some sort of protocol for the next season that could allow fans who have tested negatively for the virus to enter the stadiums. The Premier League might use a digital health passport that is created by the company that is administering testing programs for the football clubs in the Premier League.

Aleksander Ceferin, the president of the UEFA is thinking positively about allowing fans to be allowed to the stadiums. He thinks that this should be able to happen sooner than later. He said:

It’s a serious situation but it is going down now and we are being more cautious. We know more about the virus and in general, I’m an optimistic person. We are ready and we will follow the recommendations of the authorities but I’m sure, personally, that good old football with fans will come back very soon.

Meanwhile, BBC was able to talk to Professor James Calder who was a chair at the cross-sport working group with the government and health officials about the return of sports. He said that it’s still highly unlikely to allow the stadiums to be filled by fans if crowds will be allowed this year.

“I would be very surprised if we could get full stadia back this year,” he said. “Realistically I think it probably will need a vaccine and also a high take-up rate of that vaccine before we can see full capacity stadia.”

He said that it is more possible that the next football season will be played in stadiums with reduced capacities. He said, “I think realistically we will be under scrutiny for the next year, certainly this side of Christmas and probably for the rest of the season.”

Professor Calder also revealed that there are already experiments ongoing for the experts to assess whether droplet spread can be increased through chanting and singing.  He said:

We need to know, does it matter if you’re shouting, how far those droplets will spread? At a football or a rugby match, the fans are going to be shouting and chanting and singing, I hope, and we need to be sure that the people in front of them are as safe as possible.

Now if there is no massive droplet spread, well OK, we can keep within the social distancing that we’ve put down for, say, the Crucible and The Oval. But if it is a problem, then we need to rethink the social distancing within the stadia, and that becomes very difficult.

Calder said more information is needed for the rightful bodies to decide on whether fans will be allowed in the stadiums even if only small crowds will be involved.

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