Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber has admitted that the success of the pilot events carried out can allow the Premier League to slowly open their stadiums again. Unlike the English league, both the German and French leagues have re-opened their grounds at diminished capacity.
While grounds Germany and France have re-opened their grounds albeit only in areas where the number of COVID-19 cases dictated safety, England hasn’t done the same as of yet. Despite calls from across the English football pyramid, the British government are looking at postponing bringing fans back by six months. That decision, however, hasn’t gone down well and has seen the Premier League release an open letter urging the government to change their mind.
Fans, critics and club owners as well have urged the government to do the same, and Paul Barber is the latest in a long line. The Brighton chief executive has revealed that the pilot programmes were a great success and that the evidence says that “having a limited attendance” wouldn’t be “unsafe”. He further added that the government needs to allow the football pyramid a chance to get back on their “own two feet” with them not looking to “promote unsafe or irresponsible practices”.
“With the evidence we have gathered and the expertise we have, we do not believe having a limited attendance would be unsafe, particularly when other events are taking place which are indoors and arguably less safe than outdoors. We have football matches being screened in cinemas when those watching could be in a much safer environment in the stadium,” Barber said, reported the Times.
“It’s the inconsistency and the lack of logic being applied that the Royal Opera House can be nearly half full but we can’t have our stadium 25 per cent full. We have not furloughed anyone, we have not taken advantage of any cheap loans, we have supported the NHS, we have had a pilot event. All we are asking for is the chance to get back on our own two feet and look after our staff and supporters and our community. The one thing we said from day one is that we would never promote unsafe or irresponsible practices — that would be nothing less than stupid.”