Premier League mulls clinical passports solution for fans’ return

Updated 01 Aug 2020

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Fans celebrate Liverpool winning the championship title of the English Premier League outside Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west England on June 25. — AFP/File
Fans celebrate Liverpool winning the championship title of the English Premier League outside Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west England on June 25. — AFP/File

LONDON: Clinical passports may be the solution in getting fans back to football stadia, the Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters said on Friday.

Masters says having defied the sceptics in resuming and bringing the season to a climax — behind closed doors — after the hiatus caused by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the next step was to resolve the supporters’ conundrum.

The 2020-21 Premier League and lower-tier English Football League begin their new seasons on Sept 12 and Masters said in a column for The Times that every solution was being examined to give fans the chance to watch their team again.

“We are also willing to see how we can support the development of ‘clinical passports’ — an app-based system that looks at all symptoms and other Covid-19 contributing factors — as well as other measures,” he wrote.

Masters said the EPL was seeking to work with local councils on transport solutions.

“We are considering all areas of a match day, from ticketing solutions, stadium seating allocation configuration and timed entries, to temperature checks and an in-seat food and drink service for fans,” said Masters. “We will work with local authorities and clubs to seek solutions to local transport challenges such as introducing additional car parking and secure bicycle spaces and implementing park-and-walk schemes.”

Masters said bringing fans back was vital not only for their teams on the pitch but for a variety of reasons off it too.

“The importance of fans is not only related to the match-day experience and team performance,” he said. “Without them, there is also a significant financial impact on clubs at all levels of the game, and their cities, towns and communities.”

Masters, though, urged patience as the solutions will not be found quickly.

“There is still a lot to be done, and it will not happen overnight,” he said.

“We must test and prove what is possible, in tandem with the authorities, within a framework that is flexible and can adapt to fast-moving circumstances and developing expertise.”

A number of sports events have been held with

a limited number of fans in England in the last few days.

The Oval welcomed one thousand cricket spectators last Sunday, snooker’s world championship will have several hundred spectators in the indoor arena when it begins on Friday and the Glorious Goodwood racing Festival reaches a climax on Saturday with 4,000 spectators permitted.

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2020