The news that the government has decided that the managed return of spectators to sporting events is to be "paused" and possibly halted until next Spring has been greeted with great disappointment by clubs, administrators and supporters.
EFL Chairman Rick Parry issued a statement:
“Following the successful return of supporters to seven fixtures on Saturday, the EFL is disappointed at yesterday’s decision to suspend plans for the return of fans to matches. f course we recognise that the UK is facing a significant public health crisis and that sport has to play its part in helping the Government manage the spread of the virus at this difficult time.
This is why over many months we have helped the Government devise, refine and pilot stringent stadium protocols designed to keep supporters safe. Staging professional football matches is one of the most heavily regulated areas of crowd management and any supporters attending EFL fixtures, in vastly reduced numbers, would have been required to adhere to social distancing and the rule of six.
Therefore we are deeply frustrated that we will not be able to continue this work and, in doing so, gather the evidence to show that crowds can return safely to football and become an important financial lifeline for our clubs. Therefore, as a matter of urgency we now need to understand what the Government’s roadmap is for getting supporters back into stadiums as soon as it is deemed safe to do so."
Nearer to home, CAFC Safety Officer Mick Everett tweeted:
"After holding pilot game last Saturday with 1k fans in ground today's news from Government is a real setback. The amount of work undertaken by staff to get the game on was first class. Now its back to BCD (behind closed doors) again. Really gutted for fans. Also, fed up with all the documents we did which are now defunct. What is also upsetting is the number of clubs who've called us asking for advice and tips for when they can open their stadiums. They have all started the work - and, believe me, there is some to do, and will now have to abandon it all"
In light of the news The Football Supporters Association (FSA) is encouraging supporters and supporter groups to contact their local MPs who can make representations to the Government asking for urgent measures to protect football clubs. The FSA make the point that "template" letters can easily be ignored so they offer advice in the document below about how to construct a persuasive letter on the subject. CAST will be writing formally to Matt Pennycook this weekend and we would encourage all members to do the same wherever you live.