‘It’s got to be safe’ – Reaction as fans could return to Carrow Road in October
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The news that some fans may be able to return to Carrow Road for live football within three months has largely been greeted with positivity – but also with warning that the right safety procedures have to be in place.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that he hoped spectators would be able to return to stadiums from the middle of October.
Mr Johnson said that changes “must be done in a Covid-secure way, subject to the successful outcome of pilots”.
Canaries Trust chairman Robin Sainty said he was happy and “not particularly surprised” to hear the news, but stressed that the safety of supporters at Carrow Road has to be the priority.
“I’m happy, if we can get the fans back into the stadium safely. I don’t care whether that’s August, September or next January – the key thing is it’s got to be safe.
“There is going to have to be an awful lot of work put in in terms of health and safety, to deal with the pinch points – the areas where people do crowd together like queuing for food and toilets at half time and getting into the turnstiles.”
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Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke said he would like to see fans back “sooner rather than later”, but also reiterated the importance of supporters’ health.
“We play football for the supporters and with the supporters. It’s a strange feeling behind closed doors to not be allowed to celebrate or feel the pain with them.
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“Of course we’re all looking forward to have them back as soon as possible and sooner rather than later, but I think it’s also important to listen to the experts because the protocols were pretty strict and worked quite well and I think we still have to be careful – but we leave it with the experts.”
In a statement The FA said it would “continue to work closely with the relevant authorities” as it welcomed the Government’s update.
Questions remain over how fans returning to Carrow Road would work in terms of ticketing, but Mr Sainty believes that a ballot is the “only fair way” to decide who can attend games with a reduced capacity.
“I don’t see how they could get close to another system that everyone would be happy with. Drawing lots has no element of choice in it, it’s pure chance, and that’s the fairest way forward.
“The minute you get any element of selection you’re opening a massive can of worms.”
Andy Lawn from Along Come Norwich said he expects the club to prioritise corporate supporters in order to raise more money after the financial hit from the coronavirus lockdown, but trusts the club to “think long and hard before they implement anything”.
He said: “The club has so many season ticket holders – I imagine they’ll maybe do half and half, one game on and one game off.
“The good thing about Norwich is that they’re an incredibly well-run club and the people in charge genuinely care about supporters. Whatever they do someone will be annoyed and disappointed, but you know that they will have thought long and hard before they implement anything.
“I trust that the club will consider it and not just make a snap decision.”
David Wiltshire, from City supporter group Barclay End, said he was waiting to see how everything plays out as “a lot will no doubt happen between now and October”.
He said: “We’re all obviously desperate to get back. It’s a sad sight to see football played in the current conditions – the lack of passion and atmosphere has sucked the soul from the game.
“Football won’t have returned until the grounds are full again, let’s hope that’s done safely and soon.”