A senior government advisor has told BBC Sport that sporting venues may not receive the green light to fill to capacity for the rest of this year as well as for large parts of 2021.
If that does come to pass, it means that the entirety of the 2020-21 season could be played in front of reduced crowds at best.
The British government recently announced their plans to allow some spectators at a few test events in order to deduce if it was realistic to have crowds back in various stadia.
It was reported that Spurs were ready for the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to be used a case study on how to phase in the return of supporters (Daily Star).
However, James Calder, who was part of the cross-sport working group with government and health officials that laid down protocols on the return of sports, has now claimed that we are unlikely to see stadiums packed to their capacity unless a vaccine arrives soon.
Calder told BBC Sport: “I would be very surprised if we could get full stadia back this year.
“Realistically I think it probably will need a vaccine and also a high take-up rate of that vaccine before we can really see full capacity stadia.”
When asked if the entirety of the next football season could be played in front of reduced capacities, he said: “Possible, yep… 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.”
Calder also indicated that the government was studying whether sports like football could carry an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission for spectators due to the chanting and singing.
He added: “We need to know, actually, does it matter if you’re shouting, how far will those droplets 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.”
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Given how heavily reliant we are on matchday revenue to help us repay the debt owed on the stadium, it will be a massive blow for the club if a capacity crowd is not allowed next season. Spurs have already confirmed that they are planning various other events next year including the return of NFL, and one would imagine the club desperately needs the cash injection. Hopefully, it is not long before a workable vaccine is found and we see the transmission rates continuing to drop over the coming weeks and months.
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