EFL calls government position on fans in stadiums 'frustrating and perplexing'

The English Football League says the government’s position on fans not being allowed into stadiums is “frustrating and perplexing”.

Plans to allow fans into grounds were rolled back earlier in October due to newly applied coronavirus restrictions.

The restrictions have been criticised, however, with indoor venues such as theatres and cinemas being allowed to hold events with spectators.

In a statement, the league claimed the restrictions are inconsistent.

"Our members, who contribute almost £500m annually to the exchequer, has had its core income stream of ticket sales turned off indefinitely without any indication of a roadmap that will allow the safe return of supporters to stadiums, despite other sectors being able to welcome people through their doors," the EFL's statement said. "They are also continuing to meet their financial obligations in the absence of similar levels of support being afforded to other industries. The inconsistency is frustrating and perplexing."

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said earlier in October that he “accepted people’s frustrations at the inconsistency” of rules, with socially distanced audiences being allowed at some theatres for events whereas fans are still not permitted in stadiums.

However, he said the “very clear advice” was to impose restrictions instead of allowing fans to return as that would mean “a lot of people coming week in and week out going to sports stadiums up and down the country”.


EFL responds to gambling ban reports


The league’s statement comes after reports that the government is considering whether to ban betting companies from sponsoring the front of football shirts.

Seventeen of 24 teams in the Championship are currently sponsored by betting firms and Sky Bet sponsor the EFL’s leagues, however the league says it will “seek to protect an important and vital income stream” for its members.

“With over £40m a season paid by the sector to the league and its clubs, the significant contribution betting companies make to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football at all levels is as important now as it has ever been,” they said.

Fears that some EFL clubs may go bust led to the league asking the government to allow its members to defer millions of pounds in tax payments, with a financial package still to be agreed in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league rejected a £50m rescue package from the Premier League on 16 October, saying it “fell some way short” of the required amount needed.

Original article 25.10.20 on the BBC Sport website.

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