Tue. Dec 1st, 2020

Man Utd

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Ed Woodward questions why football fans can’t return to stadiums

3 min read

Manchester United chief Ed Woodward has questioned why football fans are not being allowed back into stadiums while some indoor concerts have been permitted to restart.

The club’s executive vice-chairman said he was confident that fans could be welcomed back to Old Trafford in a ‘safe, bio-secure environment’.

Some indoor venues have been allowed to re-open, including the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden, for socially distanced performances.

Eyebrows were also raised following an event at the London Palladium, where former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gave a talk to promote his new book.

Meanwhile supporters of ‘elite’ football clubs are unable to return to stadiums to support their teams.

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In a conference call to United investors, Woodward said: “If people are allowed to sit in a plane for hours, or in the cinema, or even watch football in a cinema why not outside in a stadium environment which is professionally managed and controlled?

“If indoor concerts are allowed, why should outdoor, socially-distanced football fans be treated differently?

“Fans are the bedrock of this game and some of the inconsistencies out there are frustrating for them and for the clubs.”

On Twitter, one user said: “So how come folk can get into the Palladium and Royal Opera House to watch performances, but not into any open air arena to watch football?”

It comes as fans of rugby league side Salford Red Devils were forced to miss out on their team’s trip to Wembley for their first Challenge Cup final in 51 years.



Salford Red Devils head coach Ian Watson (left) during the Challenge Cup final at Wembley, which was played without supporters

Salford agonisingly lost to 17-16 to Leeds Rhinos.

The Government previously said it hoped to start letting fans back into grounds this month, but this was cancelled as cases started to rise again.

Woodward said he accepted public health was the priority, but said he is confident United can provide a safe setting for the return of supporters.

He said: “While the situation in Greater Manchester and the UK as a whole continues to evolve, our plans for this are well advanced and we are confident of ours and the whole league’s ability to welcome them back in a safe, bio-secure environment.

“Crowds have been permitted to return to varying degrees in over 20 European countries, albeit with significant capacity restrictions to allow for social distancing, and we urge the UK government to follow these positive examples as soon as it is safe to do so.

“While we recognise that public health must always be the priority, what is needed is consistency of approach.”

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