Premier League ‘have not lost hope’ of fans returning to grounds this season, insists chief executive Richard Masters… and remain confident stadium will have ‘real numbers’ next season after complaints about different treatment from government
- Premier League matches are being played behind closed doors due to Covid-19
- Fans were allowed back in briefly in December before new restrictions came in
- But CEO Richard Masters is hopeful a small number can return before May
- The league confirmed on Wednesday games will continue to be shown on TV
The Premier League are hopeful that supporters will be allowed to watch live matches inside stadiums before the end of the season, chief executive Richard Masters has revealed.
Top-flight matches are continuing to take place behind closed doors right now due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Despite certain teams being able to welcome back a small number of fans for a few weeks in December last year, England once again finds itself in a national lockdown as it bids to get a grip on Covid-19 cases.
The Premier League are hopeful a small number of fans will return before the end of the season
Chief executive Richard Masters confirmed the news at a business event on Thursday
The league therefore confirmed on Wednesday that every game will continue to be available live on TV and that the scheme will not change until fans are allowed to return to stadiums, making it it unclear if supporters will make their way through turnstiles before for the end of the 2020-21 season.
But speaking at a Financial Times Business of Football event on Thursday, Masters confirmed he would like to see grounds open for a smaller number of people before the conclusion of the season in May.
‘I am confident (fans will return next season),’ Masters said.
‘No one can say because this pandemic has a way of surprising you but we haven’t lost hope we might see a few back this season.
Masters also said he was confident of having fans return to ground from next season
‘Certainly next season I hope it opens up quickly, we can work with the government again, and get fans back into stadiums in real numbers.’
In an October interview with The Times, Masters said clubs had been hit by a ‘quadruple whammy’ over the Government’s ban on fans at sporting events.
Plans to pilot a limited return from October 1 were shelved in September, leading Masters to reiterate his belief that the rules at the time were unfair.
And now asked if he felt the league was treated more firmly by the government in comparison to some other sports, Masters said it was the result of the successful operation that has been created.
Masters is hopeful that grounds such as Anfield can open up as quickly as possible next season
Masters also admitted that football has been treated ‘differently’ by the UK government
‘There have been a number of instances where football has been treated differently to others but it’s the flip side to being the success story we are,’ he added.
‘The optics of being seen to do the right thing is important. We’re making progress.’
The statement confirming the continuation of televised games on Wednesday read: ‘The Premier League today confirmed all fixtures will continue to be made available to fans to watch live in the UK,’ the statement read.
‘This arrangement will be extended until Government guidance permits supporters to return to stadiums.
‘All matches will be shown via existing broadcast partners Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC, who continue to work with us to deliver these additional matches while stadiums are missing the supporters who are such an integral part of the game.’
The Premier League confirmed on Wednesday that all games will continue to be televised