If I were to tell you that when you go to St. James’ Park to watch Newcastle United you had to be quiet, what would you tell me? You’d probably tell me a lot of things, most of which I cannot publish on this site. Well, the Premier League may be getting that treatment pretty soon, and not just from Newcastle United fans.
Newcastle fans are already at odds with the Premier League and have been protesting the breakdown of a sale between Mike Ashley and a consortium led by Amanda Staveley, funded in large part from PiF, the Saudi Royal family’s private stash. This will be another in a long line of grievances against the most powerful football league in the world.
The United Kingdom continues to ease its lockdown procedures, paving the way for many things to begin reopening. We won’t get into the argument about whether it’s good or bad, but rest assured, it’s not the brightest idea. As these lockdowns are eased, Prime Minister Boris Johnson would like to see sports venues, as well as concert venues reopen, with social distancing of course.
So how does a stadium full of thousands of fans reduce the risk of Covid-19, even if everyone were truly following the guidelines such as wearing masks and six feet distance? The Premier League wants you to be quiet, meaning no chanting. I’m not saying that the measure doesn’t make any sense, I’m just saying that you’re taking out a huge part of the football spectating experience. If you’re truly this worried about Covid-19, why open at all?
You also have to be concerned with who gets to attend the matches? St. James’ Park seats 52,305 fans. Even if you were to cut that in half for social distancing’s sake, how are you going to choose the 26,152 (rounded down because, you know, social distancing) that get in? Any system you produce, even if it is a lottery system, is going to be met with backlash and disdain.
Major League Soccer fans are signing waivers that they cannot sue MLS if they get Covid-19 from attending a match as the United States also seeks to reopen many of its leagues to fans. But with so many restrictions and guidelines in place, as well as cases throughout the United States and UK continuing to rise, why should fans spend their hard-earned money to put themselves at risk?
On August 9th, the United Kingdom posted its highest daily infection rate since June. Throughout Europe, cases of Covid-19 continue to rise as countries begin reopening. If the Premier League thinks no chanting and having hand sanitizer on tap is going to make this less of a danger, they’re gravely mistaken.