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Petition secures Parliamentary debate on fan lock out

A petition to get fans back into football grounds in line with other sectors of the economy has secured a Parliamentary debate after reaching almost 200,000 signatures.

Football fans continue to be locked out of elite football – which covers all matches in the Premier League, EFL and National League – despite other large scale events such as concerts being allowed to admit spectators.

The issue was at the centre of a Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing this week and will return to Parliament on Monday 9th November.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden acknowledged fans’ frustrations at the continuing lock-out but insisted the situation would remain unchanged.

Dowden said he “accepted people’s frustrations at the inconsistency” of the rules between the two kinds of events but the rising COVID-19 infection rate meant football would remain behind closed doors.

“If we had social distancing for sport that is a lot of people coming week in and week out going to sports stadiums up and down the country,” Dowden told MPs.

“There are actually very few socially-distanced indoor performances going on. They are not massively financially viable.

“If people are unhappy with indoor performances going ahead with social distancing that is a separate question of whether you stop them, as it were.”

Pictures of a packed London Palladium, hosting a Q&A with former-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, were shared across social media and drew substantial criticism from football fans who remain locked out of their grounds.

FSA chair Malcolm Clarke said: “Football fans have watched with dismay as large-scale indoor spectator events, such as concerts and theatre productions, have resumed with significant crowds in recent weeks while they remain locked out of their clubs.

“There is zero logic in this. Under the professional guidance of the Sports Ground Safety Authority clubs across the country have worked extremely hard over the summer to implement social distancing and getting their grounds as COVID-secure as possible.

“Government should recognise these efforts and the test events that successfully readmitted supporters by bringing football into line with other sectors.”

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