Competitions and Venues UpdatesPeter Houghton
In a recent newsletter article, I referred to the “pathway back to people” as being something of a Hokey Cokey, will they, won’t they?
It is great to be able to report that more or less all of the right foots are now going “in” and our Providers, colleagues in other sports, the SGSA and the DCMS are now implementing their roadmap from empty venues to full attendances.
That said, the first “theatre-style” event at Liverpool’s M&S Arena-Auditorium appears to have hit the buffers. Around 300 comedy theatre-goers were expected to attend on 16 April. But venue managers were concerned that there was a lack of clarity in terms of covid-passports which resulted in a barrage of social media abuse which looks to have lead to them pulling the plug.
On 17 April, the World Snooker Championships start at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre. The audience here will be progressive with 33% of capacity (round 1), 50% (round 2) and a full house of 1000 on the final 2 days (2 & 3 May).
Wembley Stadium is scheduled to host 4000 spectators for the FA Cup Semi-Final between Leicester City & Southampton on 18 April. The audience will be drawn from local NHS and Health workers as well as Brent Council employees.
A week later the National Stadium will host the EFL’s Carabao Cup Final between Tottenham Hotspur & Manchester City. Here it is pretty much the same 4000 limit but participating clubs have received 2000 tickets each, so this is a progressive step. It is thought that attendees will need to have a Lateral flow test ahead of the match and a PCR follow-up when they get home. News today from BBC Sport now suggests this might be 8000 in attendance with the additional 4000 being distributed similar to the FA Cup Semi-Final.
There are a number of other non-sporting events at theatres and other venues before we head back to Wembley for the FA Cup Final when we are hoping for 21000 spectators.
Hopefully, this will pave the way for larger attendances at the England Internationals and the European Nations Cup matches that immediately follow, and also to scrap the need for social distancing at following events.
The idea of the “test events” will be to generally “test the science” and there will be scientists about in a bid to pave the way for sporting events to come out of hibernation.
The debate about covid passporting goes on and for now it is not clear whether this will be seen to be a way forward as there are many debates about division and discrimination. We will have to see what develops in this respect.
The onus to carry the roadmap forward lies a lot with Wembley Stadium. When you take into account the stadium’s location, its reliance upon transport links and participating clubs from as far apart as Manchester and Southampton, this should prove to be a suitable yardstick by which to measure everything and set us on our way to getting our stadia back open in time for next season.