A petition calling on the government to reconsider its stance on allowing fans into ‘elite level’ football grounds has gained widespread support over the last few days.
As of writing, the government petition has reached over 192,000 signatures calling for the government to allow fans to attend all levels of football.
The petition argues that fans should be allowed to attend games because: “Football is a powerful tool which allows a range of benefits such as employment, and other important aspects of life.”
Under the current rules fans are allowed to attend games at non-league step three grounds and below as they are not considered elite sport, but fans are not permitted into grounds at step one and two of the pyramid.
Furthermore, fans are not allowed in at any ground in the Premier League or Football League.
This means that clubs such as Kingstonian in the Isthmian Premier League are allowed a reduced capacity crowd whereas Sutton United in the National League currently have to play their games behind closed doors.
Premier League support
The campaign, which began in September, has risen to prominence again in the last few days with many clubs tweeting their support for it. Both the English Football League and Premier League tweeted a link to the petition showing support for the movement.
The Premier League also showed its support for the petition by publishing an open letter to supporters alongside the EFL, the FA and Women’s Super League stating: “Together we will get fans safely back into grounds.”
The Premier League have pointed to the eleven successful trial events held by Premier League and EFL clubs as proof that they are able to deliver matches safely.
A friendly match between Brighton and Chelsea held in August allowed access to fans with social distancing measures in place including a reduced capacity and a requirement for masks to be worn around the stadium.
Pay per view
This push for fans to return comes from the government’s willingness to open indoor venues such as the Royal Albert Hall.
The announcement on Friday that Sky and BT Sport are going to charge fans £14.95 per view to watch some Premier League games has increased the support behind the campaign as fans may be priced out and those with season tickets may be forced to spend even more money to watch games they cannot attend.
The government has yet to respond to the petition and the growing pressure from football’s governing bodies, but the petition gaining over 100,000 signatures means it will have to be addressed in Parliament.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden is expected to be questioned about allowing fans into football grounds when he faces a DCMS committee this week.