Premier League clubs have lost £700m during the coronavirus crisis, says the league’s chief executive Richard Masters.
Plans to have supporters back in sports stadiums on October 1 remain in place, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that strategy will be reviewed in the coming days.
The announcement came during the Prime Minister’s press briefing on Wednesday, at which he confirmed gatherings of more than six people will be illegal from Monday – a rule which does not apply to competitive sports teams.
Masters says the Premier League is ready to work with the Government to ensure the safe return of fans to stadiums as the clubs prepare themselves for more financial losses during the 2020/21 season, which begins on Saturday.
“We are ready, willing and able to be ambitious with our testing as soon as we are able to open our turnstiles,” Masters told Sky Sports. “Using the current guidelines we’ll be about a quarter full and we want to work over time because the fans are the key missing ingredient from the thing.
“Not having fans in the stadium has serious financial repercussions, not just in the Premier League but throughout football. Every Premier League match contributes around £20m to the local and national economy, so we want to play our part in supporting that national effort.
“There’s a perception that the Premier League can continue to sustain losses for a long period of time but it has been very painful for clubs and there are more challenges ahead.
“Last season we lost circa £700m and next season, matchday revenue is about that number again, so the sooner we can get fans back into stadiums the sooner we can reduce that number.”
A pilot scheme to have spectators for horse racing at Doncaster this week was cancelled by the local council on Wednesday, with plans to have 6,000 fans in attendance for Saturday’s meeting shelved.
A limited number of spectators were allowed to see the World Snooker Championships in August and plans remain in place for a return of 1,000 Premier League fans per game, with social distancing measures in place, from October 1.
“We will have to revise plans and review our intention to have fans return to stadiums – that doesn’t mean we are abandoning it completely, we just need to review it,” said the Prime Minister.
Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, posted a statement on Twitter following the Prime Minister’s press conference, maintaining the government were continuing to “plan for the best”.
“Further to the PM’s announcement we are reviewing the list of proposed sports pilots ahead of 1 Oct, in light of the increased number of cases. Details of changes will be announced shortly,” Dowden said.