Sport’s £1BILLION crisis: Financial black hole could force clubs out of business with return of fans to stadiums in tatters after Boris Johnson’s clampdown
- New Government restrictions have left plans for the return of fans in tatters
- Rising levels of Covid-19 infection have led to a clampdown from Boris Johnson
- Test events for the rest of the month are set to be capped at 1,000 fans
- Leading administrators are sceptical fans will be back in stadiums next month
England’s major sports are contemplating a £1billion black hole that could force many clubs out of business after the Government’s new restrictions left plans for the return of fans in disarray.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that test events for the rest of this month would be capped at 1,000 spectators, and that the Government would review plans for an October 1 permanent return of spectators nearer the time.
Leading administrators across sport have told Sportsmail that they are extremely sceptical about the Government permitting fans to attend matches as planned next month given the rising levels of Covid-19 infection across the country.
Boris Johnson has announced a ‘review’ of plans to re-open stadiums for sport fans in October
Pilot events such as Brighton’s friendly against Chelsea will be limited to 1,000 people
Confirmation of the Government’s review into spectator numbers came just hours after Premier League chief executive Richard Masters had warned that it was ‘absolutely critical’ for fans to return as soon as possible, forecasting losses of £700million across the 20 top-flight clubs if they remain locked out all season.
While wealthy owners and a £3billion annual television contract, which should remain intact if games are played behind closed doors, would prevent any Premier League club from going bust the same cannot be said in the Football League, where the financial impact of an entire season without paying supporters has been estimated at £200m.
Rugby is also bracing itself for more huge losses. There are doubts over whether supporters will be able to attend games at Twickenham next month as planned.
But Premier League chief executive Richard Masters warns they will lose £700m with no fans
The RFU have put tickets on sale for England’s international against the Barbarians on October 25 and were hoping for a 20,000-plus crowd at that game — and England’s four subsequent fixtures in the newly-arranged Eight Nations competition.
They will lose around £100m if the matches are behind closed doors.
Cricket has already taken its major hit for the year with losses projected to reach £180m while racing was the first sport to feel the pinch when officials at Doncaster racecourse announced that the trial with crowds at the St Leger Festival would be abandoned after the first day.
It will cost the track £250,000 while Britain’s 59 courses are losing £4m a month in the absence of fans.