FOOTBALL Sports News

FA Chairman: Hard to see fans returning to football soon

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has said it is hard to see fans returning to matches “any time soon”, with clubs facing the prospect of having to play remaining matches behind closed doors if the Premier League and English League resumes following the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is understood top-flight clubs were told on Friday that the remaining matches of the 2019-20 season must be played at neutral venues.

Furthermore, the Premier League is also preparing for the possibility of playing the 2020-21 season without fans. In a letter to the FA Governing Council, Clarke stated that it was hard to foresee fans attending games in the near future.

“The reality is that we just don’t know how things are going to pan out. But with social distancing in place for some time to come we do face substantial changes to the whole football ecosystem,” said Clarke.

“For example it’s hard to foresee crowds of fans – who are the lifeblood of the game – returning to matches any time soon.” said Clarke, who warned of a “worst-case scenario” of FA budget cuts for the next four years.

Clarke also said the FA board has agreed a “sensible” £75m budget cut amid the uncertainty surrounding a resumption. “In a worst-case scenario, this would be necessary for the next four years to offset a £300m deficit,” he added.

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