Government play down hopes of fans returning to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
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In what comes as a blow to Tottenham Hotspur fans, culture secretary Oliver Dowden has said that now is not the time to consider allowing fans to back into football stadiums.

It was previously reported that the UK government was considering allowing spectators to return to grounds at the start of October (Guardian) but with the case numbers on the rise again, that appears to have been put on the back burner for now.

Spurs have been proactive in pushing for fans to be allowed to return, with the club proposing a test event at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for 31,000 fans last month, only to be turned down by the government (Evening Standard).

The North Londoners have also thrown their support behind the ‘Let Fans In’ campaign which called for football fans across the country to be allowed to attend matches at all levels.

However, Dowden has made it clear that the Government has binned initial plans to welcome fans back in light of the increase in COVID-19 cases.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast (as relayed by Football.London), he said: “That was the plan and that’s something we ideally wanted to happen and had been working towards.

“We’d gone through this phased reopening of football. For example, very early on, football was one of the first sports to return behind closed doors, we facilitated that with games free-to-view on the BBC and others.

“The next stage was due to be on October 1 to enjoy fans back in socially-distanced circumstances. We worked very closely with the clubs to mitigate the risks surrounding that.

“Ultimately, though, against this backdrop of rapidly rising infections, I think people will appreciate now is not the time to do that, to add to the risk of infection spreading by making further easements.”

Bowden also admitted that fans are unlikely to be allowed back into the stadiums unless the case numbers drop again.

He added: “There are risks associated with that and, at the time, we were making no easements at all from October 1.

“Indeed, we were looking to impose further restrictions. Now is not the time to do it.

“I can assure you that I’m working intensively to see when we can do this as soon as it’s safe to do so, once we get the disease under control. We’re not sitting on our laurels.”

Spurs Web Opinion

One can certainly understand why the Government is being precautionary and they are arguably justified in not allowing fans back in when case numbers are still high. However, looking at some of the other events and places where mass gathering seems to be allowed, football fans understandably feel that the stance is hypocritical.

The mental health consequences of the lockdown have not received as much coverage as it should have over the past few months. Allowing fans back in a reduced capacity can certainly do wonders for their for emotional well being.

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