The Sunday Mail
England’s major sports are contemplating a £1 billion black hole that could force many clubs out of business after the Government’s new restrictions left plans for the return of fans in disarray.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that test events for the rest of this month would be capped at 1 000 spectators, and that the Government would review plans for an October 1 permanent return of spectators nearer the time.
Leading administrators across sport have told Sportsmail that they are extremely sceptical about the Government permitting fans to attend matches as planned next month given the rising levels of Covid-19 infection across the country.
Confirmation of the Government’s review into spectator numbers came just hours after Premier League chief executive Richard Masters had warned that it was ‘absolutely critical’ for fans to return as soon as possible, forecasting losses of £700 million across the 20 top-flight clubs if they remain locked out all season.
While wealthy owners and a £3 billion annual television contract, which should remain intact if games are played behind closed doors, would prevent any Premier League club from going bust the same cannot be said in the Football League, where the financial impact of an entire season without paying supporters has been estimated at £200 million.
Rugby is bracing itself for more huge losses. There are doubts over whether supporters will be able to attend games at Twickenham next month as planned.
The RFU have put tickets on sale for England’s international against the Barbarians on October 25 and were hoping for a 20 000-plus crowd at that game — and England’s four subsequent fixtures in the newly-arranged Eight Nations competition.
They will lose around £100 million if the matches are behind closed doors.
Cricket has already taken its major hit for the year with losses projected to reach £180 million while racing was the first sport to feel the pinch when officials at Doncaster racecourse announced that the trial with crowds at the St Leger Festival would be abandoned after the first day.
It will cost the track £250 000 while Britain’s 59 courses are losing £4 million a month in the absence of fans. — Daily Mail.