Scrapping the return of fans is ‘crackers’
The rationale behind the scrapping of the return of crowds in professional and semi-professional sport was branded “crackers” and “inconsistent” by public health experts last night as the sector was left reeling by the new lockdown rules.
Boris Johnson’s announcement that sports would remain behind closed doors for up to six months was called into question after he continued to allow pubs to remain open – albeit under a 10pm curfew.
Prof John Ashton, former director of public health for North West England, said: “From a public health perspective, there’s a shocking lack of consistency – it’s crackers.
“I can hardly answer why you might be safer in a pub. There are such a lot of inconsistencies, where clearly we need hard and fast rules.”
His sentiments were echoed by Prof Gabriel Scally, president of the epidemiology and public health section of the Royal Society of Medicine and a member of Independent Sage, which holds the Government’s scientific advisers to account.
Prof Scally said he could not explain the rationale behind a ban on crowds of up to six months and that the plan for them to return in limited numbers with social dissector,
tancing enforced was a solid one. “People not being allowed to meet in homes, but you are allowed to go to the pub, but not stadiums. It’s not very consistent,” he said.
“I’ve seen some of the experiments that have taken place at sporting venues, with relatively small numbers of spectators in huge venues, and I can’t see any reason why that isn’t successful. It’s all about making sure people adhere to it.”
Yesterday’s announcement had been forecast since the Government announced a review of plans for the return of crowds earlier this month.
But it still caught some out, with Chesterfield chief executive John Croot telling BBC Radio Sheffield the National League side had “no idea” the “bombshell” news was coming and the club had to suspend ticket sales due to begin that morning. The Government’s pilot scheme for the return of spectators was also scrapped, throwing planned events of capacities up to 1,000 into chaos.
Yesterday’s pre-season friendlies between Concord Rangers and Dagenham & Redbridge, Yeovil Town and Bath City and Dartford and Dover Athletic were all cleared to proceed.
But the Bath-Gloucester Gallagher Premiership clash went back behind closed doors.
Dismay: Prof John Ashton criticised a lack of consistency