PREMIER LEAGUE chiefs are hoping new technology and a Covid “passport” will get fans back in grounds before the end of the season.
The announcement of successful vaccine trials and a ‘five-minute test’ has added to the belief that turnstiles can be reopened during the current campaign.
Fans may be back in Premier League grounds early next yearCredit: Getty Images – Getty
A Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is nearing approval for public distributionCredit: Reuters
That comes as Prem chairman Gary Hoffman works with the Government’s Sports Technology and Innovation Group, headed by Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross, to find new solutions.
Prem chiefs have volunteered to act as a ‘guinea pig’ for any trials, in the hope that success for football will lead to the reopening of all major sport to supporters.
And there is already an outline deal with Government that will see Covid vaccine records added to a digital health passport carried on smartphones to potentially fast-track the return of crowds.
The League is working on protocols that go beyond the requirements of the Sports Ground Safety Authority regulations.
That has brought buy-in from Government scientists and the DCMS, while there have also been meetings with Cabinet Office Minister, and close ally to the PM, Michael Gove.
League bosses have worked out a number of protocols to speed up the return of supporters and have vowed they are ready to bring them into operation ‘as soon as it is safe to go back’.
Key to that will be the establishment of the smartphone app health passports for those who have received the vaccine and tested negative, seen as a potential standard setter for the entire sports industry.
Clubs will ensure sanitisation ports at all entry points while it is anticipated that social distancing will be required in the initial stages of the return, reducing capacities but finally allowing clubs to start generating income through the gate.
Prem chief executive Richard Masters has reiterated that clubs are losing £100million per month under the current arrangements, with the total bill now in excess of £1billion in lost revenue.
The league is asking for a ‘roadmap’ out of the current restrictions and Masters told MPs: “By completing the season we were able to minimise the broadcast rebate but the losses were still significant.
“We estimate there were between £650m and £700m revenue losses across the league, through the lack of matchday revenue, commercial opportunities and loss of sponsorship.”
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