1st September 2020

The Hot Topic – Sports with Spectators in a Post Pandemic World

Over the past 4 months, scheduled sporting events for 2020, like the Euro’s, have been postponed or cancelled, leaving fans disappointed.

However, with full lockdown over and restrictions easing, fans were pleased to welcome the Premier League season back in June… but behind closed doors. In order to keep within social distancing and health & safety guidelines, the Government issued a statement that these matches could resume on the grounds they are played behind closed doors, with only authorised personnel being allowed on site. The solution of playing behind closed doors was only ever going to work as a short-term fix to get sports back. Many lower league football clubs are still struggling from the economic side effects of COVID-19, as many relied on the income from match days, so the question is, when will fans be allowed back in stadia?

The Government have proposed that with restrictions easing on mass gatherings, fans will hopefully be allowed in stadiums from October. Boris Johnson said, “From October we intend to bring back audiences in stadia and allow conferences and other business events to recommence, again these changes must be done in a COVID-secure way subject to the successful outcome of pilots.”

So, how are stadia planning to mitigate risk of infection once the Government allow fans back on site to watch their beloved game?

Charlton Athletic are one of the selected to bring fans back as a trial run whilst adhering to safety guidelines in September. According to London News Online, “It is expected that between 500 and 1,000 fans would be allowed in for a match ahead of an increased capacity in October… when restrictions are lifted in October, Charlton are planning for between 6,000 to 8,000 fans to be allowed at the Valley – which has a capacity of 27,000.”

As planned by Charlton Athletic the main guidelines put in place for the proposed October return will be a reduction in capacity for these stadiums. According to the Telegraph, the Government have issued a limit of 30% capacity for all stadia. Alongside the reduced capacity, will inevitably be the social distancing code of conduct that people have been adhering to throughout this pandemic. Both of these processes will mean not all fans will be allowed within the stadium during matches, so will a form of physical security be needed to regulate and monitor capacity and social distancing?

When it comes to enforcing these guidelines, effective temporary physical security could be the answer to ensure safety and security within the premises at all times. Temporary security would be a great solution for perimeters of stadiums due to the versatility, meaning it can be deployed and then moved anywhere the stadium sees fit. Preventing individuals trying to gain access without consent whilst also being used as barriers within the stadiums, forming one-way systems & specialised paths to help observe social distancing rules.

So, the hot topic asks; will everyone respect these safety guidelines during matches and games? Or would a form of physical security need to be implemented to help reinforce and encourage these new rules?