Premier League

Premier League risks losing £700m if fans remain absent from games

The English football authorities and the government are working in tandem to get supporters back as soon as is safe

 
5:16pm on Wednesday 9th September 2020
By
Martin Macdonald

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says teams within the competition will lose a potential £700m worth of revenue should fans continue to be not allowed into stands, urging that it is "absolutely critical" they return soon.

Around Europe, every league was forced to play the remainder of their 2019/20 season behind closed doors from around March onwards due to to the coronavirus pandemic.

As the outbreak is still not under control, the 2020/21 Premier League season will start without a high number of supporters in the stadium.

Although various pilot schemes have been initiated to get fan numbers back slowly, the EPL has promised a major financial hit if the lockout continues.

"We have to get back to fans inside stadia as quickly as possible - that's the big thing that's missing, economic or otherwise - we need fans back inside stadiums for all sorts of reasons and it's the number one priority," Masters told BBC Sport.

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"It doesn't lower our ambitions - it just means that we'll have to adapt - it's one thing we've shown over recent months, we're able to adapt to the situation," Masters said.

"We wait to see what impact it has on the government's testing programme, and permissions it's going to give, and also on that crucial 1 October date. We wait to see what the government decides and we'll remain in dialogue with them throughout.

"We always knew September was going to be a difficult month at the start of the return to normality the government was talking about, and so we should anticipate bumps in the road."

Masters went on to say that English football chiefs are working on three main objectives - getting fans back into stadiums, ensuring every match is played as scheduled, and returning the Premier League to its previous financial health.

He then provided the numbers for the deficit should empty stadiums continue.

"It's not just the loss of matchday revenue," he said. "Every Premier League match on average generates about £20m for the economy both local and national so we want to play our part in helping the economy to recover as well.

"I think perhaps there is a perception the Premier League economy can withstand just about anything, but if you do lose £700m out of a planned budget it's going to affect things and clubs have had to make some very difficult decisions," he continued.

"That is why it is important we focus on those three key objectives and obviously everyone hopes that from next season we can return to full normality, but it's a huge challenge going forward."

For the first time in its history this weekend, the opening day of the Premier League season will take place without any fans.

Every fixture scheduled in September is set to be broadcast on television.

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