The FA and Premier League are exploring the costs and implications of staging games behind closed doors later this season to cope with any mass spread of the coronavirus. Photo: Reuters
The FA and Premier League are exploring the costs and implications of staging games behind closed doors later this season to cope with any mass spread of the coronavirus. Photo: Reuters

Premier League might bar fans over virus fears

By MATT HUGHES Time of article published Mar 3, 2020

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The FA and Premier League are exploring the costs and implications of staging games behind closed doors later this season to cope with any mass spread of the coronavirus.

Both organisations will be led by the government’s public health advice before making any alterations to the fixture list, but have held talks about what to do if large gatherings are prohibited — with behind-closed-doors games emerging as a possibility.

The FA have the added complication of hosting a friendly international at Wembley on March 27 between England and Italy, where six Serie A matches were postponed last weekend due to the spread of the virus. The fixture will remain on unless the FA are advised to act by the government.

Cancellations would result in multi-million-pound losses, so the talks have focused on how games could be staged without fans, which would also be the preferred option of broadcasters.

During the discussions, the FA have raised the need to offer solidarity payments to lower-division clubs in the event of games being held behind closed doors, because those sides rely on gate revenue far more than their Premier League counterparts.

UEFA discussed the coronavirus only briefly at yesterday’s Executive Committee meeting in Amsterdam, despite the threat it poses to this summer’s European Championship and the rest of the club season.

The opening game of Euro 2020 between Italy and Turkey is due to take place in Rome on June 12, but UEFA will not be rushed into a decision. They will act on the advice of governments.

The issue was raised by president Aleksander Ceferin at the Executive Committee, but a source said the discussion lasted only two minutes.

A UEFA spokesman said: ‘We’re in touch with the authorities, we’re in the hands of the local authorities, and we’ll deal with whatever they tell us.

‘There’s no threat to any more matches that I’ve been made aware of, other than the ones that have already been changed.

‘We’ll react to what the World Health Organisation and other people say. Nothing’s changed since last week, that’s the position we’re in.’

Daily Mail

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