Manchester United have made changes to allow 23,500 fans into Old Trafford to match the requirements for social distancing regulations.
Supporters of UK football clubs have not been allowed into stadiums since the COVID-19 outbreak halted football back in March, although there are hopes of reintegrating fans back into grounds in a manner that complies with the rules on preventing the spread of the virus.
These plans were originally set in place for October, but were subsequently postponed.
Modifications have now been made by United to accommodate fans back into Old Trafford, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson claiming the restrictions could be in place for a further six months.
Collette Roche, United’s chief operating officer, told Sky Sports News: “It’s quite bemusing to understand why people can gather in other settings such as on an aeroplane or in a restaurant, or even in a cinema to watch football, when we know we’ve got the plans and the process is ready to deliver a match day here safely.
“We spent around two months working with the government guidelines to develop the right processes and measures to make sure that we can have around 23,500 people in this stadium safely social distancing.”
In terms of finances, the effect of the pandemic has had a significant impact on sports and sports team worldwide, including United, who suffered a £70m drop in revenue in the period up until 30 June 2020.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters stated that clubs are being further punished by the regulations, amounting to a ‘quadruple whammy’ as a result of the continuing ban.
He told The Times: “Firstly that the optimism of 1 October has been taken away; secondly that there will be a sports bailout but that it wouldn’t include football; thirdly that the Premier League will be expected to secure the future of the EFL while dealing with the implications of having no fans until possibly March; finally the opening up of entertainment arenas within sometimes a couple of miles of football grounds without any road map for the return of football supporters.”