Premier League clubs have been expressed to make eventuality plans for playing games behind closed doors. There is a growing sensation among top-flight clubs that tournaments will end up being played without fans as the disease carry on to spread.
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The Wolves fans were scuppered when UEFA announced their Europa League match against Olympiakos in Greece on Thursday night will be behind closed doors. Some supporters had already started their journey. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said there was “no reason” to shut out spectators but the DCMS later said the meeting put forward proposals about how staging games behind closed doors “could work in practice”.
Football bosses attended the Department of Culture, Media and Sport coronavirus meeting in London on Monday and while there is no immediate threat to games, they have been told to make sure they are prepared. It comes after Premier League bosses, the Football Association, the Lawn Tennis Association among others were summoned along with broadcasters.
The DCMS later issued a statement that read: Based upon the current scientific advice from the Government’s medical experts there is no rationale to close or cancel sporting events as things stand. We will keep on in regular interchange with sports governing bodies and presenters, confirming they are in acceptance of the most up to date guidance from the health authorities.
It is believed they discussed playing behind closed doors, limiting fan numbers and also stopping over-70s from going to games because they would be more vulnerable to the coronavirus. However, such a ban would be hard to enforce and would perhaps be down to individuals.
It is supposed the FA may be open to lifting limitations on live TV coverage of games at 3 pm on Saturdays if fans were locked out but neither that or matches being shown free-to-air was deliberated. Several clubs have banned players attending community events, signing autographs and also taking selfies while both the Premier League and the Football League have banned pre-match handshakes.
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