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CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR SAFE RETURN OF FANS TO PIRELLI STADIUM

16 September 2020

GETTING fans back into the Pirelli Stadium is a top priority for Burton Albion with the club proactive in talks with safety officials to make sure the Pirelli Stadium is ready and secure for supporters.

The EFL will stage pilots with up to 1,000 fans at matches this weekend, following approval from the Government.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is meeting sports bodies to discuss the planned return of spectators to various sports from October 1 and Burton Albion is lobbying for the safe return of fans.

Burton Albion Commercial Director Fleur Robinson said: “The safe return of fans is our top priority and we are working with the Safety Advisory Group as a matter of urgency to make sure everything is in place.

“We hope to be in a position to update Season Ticket Holders, Vice Presidents and sponsors in the next few days.”

The EFL said the pilots were an "important step" for fans' safe return while Burton Albion Chairman Ben Robinson hopes government plans to return supporters to football stadiums will not be changed when the situation is reviewed this week.

He believes a percentage of supporters could be accommodated comfortably at the Pirelli Stadium, where the club have been putting detailed measures in place since guidelines were first issued.

Prior to the re-tightening of lockdown measures this week, the Government had talked about fans being allowed back to grounds in England by the end of this month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now said those plans will be "reviewed."

Now, the EFL understands that a meeting between the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden MP, and a variety of sports could be crucial.

The Chairman has contacted Burton MP Kate Griffiths asking for her support and she has contacted the Secretary of State's department on the club's behalf.

The Chairman said: "The wellbeing of families and individuals is paramount, of course, but it should not be difficult for a club the size of ours to accommodate a small number of fans at our games.

"We have almost a 7,000 capacity and our average gate is below half of that.

"We would hope that we should at least be able to accommodate our Season Ticket Holders, Vice Presidents and our annual hospitality guests - the people who have paid for the season."

Accepting that the club will continue to follow whatever guidelines the Government lays down, the Chairman added: "Football still faces a financial crisis as a result of the pandemic.

"It's said that the clubs in the Championship who completed last season and those in League One and Two who missed out on home games when their season was suspended lost £50m of gate income between them.

"The estimate if there are no crowds allowed during the 2020-21 season is a loss of £200m."

The EFL says clubs and officials from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport have been working together to develop strict operational guidelines for the return of fans.

They have based these on allowing stadiums to operate at between 25 and 35% of capacity, with the aim of 1m plus social distancing between supporters around the ground.

"The guidance is already in place at grounds across the country and it's been implemented by experienced crowd safety professionals so that we can be ready for the hoped-for return of crowds from the start of October," added the Chairman.

"The pilot events that have been held have proved that the guidance works and can be delivered successfully and safely. We now hope that the Government goes ahead with the original plan to give the green light to crowds from the beginning of October. If it does not happen or if the Government cannot give us a credible roadmap for it to happen the result could be catastrophic for many football clubs and the communities they are at the heart of.”


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