Ger­many ex­tends ban on fans to put UK plans in doubt

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Tom Mor­gan

The ban on spec­ta­tors at­tend­ing Bun­desliga matches was ex­tended by Ger­man health min­is­ters yes­ter­day in an­other sig­nal that Bri­tish hopes of get­ting crowds back by Oct 1 may be overly am­bi­tious.

Ger­many’s fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments agreed spec­ta­tors should be kept out un­til at least the end of Oc­to­ber due to fears of a sec­ond wave in the Covid-19 pan­demic, Reuters news agency re­ported.

The an­nounce­ment will con­cern of­fi­cials at the Premier League, who had been in reg­u­lar con­tact with coun­ter­parts in Ger­many’s top tier dur­ing the Project Restart re­sump­tion be­hind closed doors.

The Bun­desliga sea­son restarted in mid-May af­ter a sus­pen­sion of more than two months, be­com­ing the first Euro­pean league to re­sume un­der strict rules to con­tain the spread of the coro­n­avirus.

“We need to stay vig­i­lant. In the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, spec­ta­tors in the sta­di­ums would be the wrong sig­nal,” health min­is­ter Jens Spahn said in a tweet. Spahn pointed to a ris­ing num­ber of new coro­n­avirus cases over the past few days and warned against tak­ing any avoid­able risks that could fur­ther in­crease the in­fec­tion rate.

In Eng­land, min­is­ters face a race against time to en­sure enough test­ing is car­ried out at sta­di­ums ahead of a pro­posed Oct 1 re­turn for crowds, af­ter spec­ta­tor pi­lots were can­celled at the snooker, cricket and horse rac­ing at the end of July.

White­hall sources said there re­mained no change to cur­rent plans last night. “We’ll con­tinue to work closely with the sec­tor, in­clud­ing on any ad­di­tional pi­lots that will be re­quired, in or­der that we can build up to and pre­pare for full, so­cially-dis­tanced re­open­ings for sport­ing events from Oct 1 if it is safe to do so,” the source said.

An ex­tended de­lay on the re­turn of fans would spell dis­as­ter for clubs out­side the elite, with many foot­ball and rugby venues es­ti­mat­ing they would still be mak­ing losses even when 40 per cent full.

Nigel Hud­dle­ston, the sports min­is­ter, warned last week that clubs can ex­pect lit­tle more sup­port af­ter “gov­ern­ment schemes to the tune of tens, if not hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds” were taken out over the past four months.

Good­wood, the Oval, Edg­bas­ton and the Cru­cible were forced to aban­don plans at just 24 hours’ no­tice on July 31 fol­low­ing gov­ern­ment warn­ings that lock­down eas­ing had been put back.

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