The new plans for spectators to return to sporting events will provide a ‘disappointing’ match-day experience for fans, believes Trevor Sinclair.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the UK Government announced this week plans for supporters to return to Premier League and EFL football games and other sporting events once the latest national lockdown ends.
Restrictions that have been in place since March – by and large – will be eased next week, with the country returning to a regional tiered system, with sport stadiums and arenas allowed to admit a limited number of spectators.
Football fans have finally been given a boost with news they will soon be allowed back in stadiums, but Trevor Sinclair isn’t a fan of the ideaGetty Images – Getty
It has been confirmed that up to 4,000 spectators or 50 per cent capacity limits – whichever is lowest – will be put in place in tier 1, dropping to 2,000 or 50 per cent for indoor venues.
In tier 2, the limit will be 2,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors, or 50 per cent capacity. No fans will be allowed in stadiums in tier 3 areas.
But Sinclair believes the restrictions on numbers, plus the limitations that will be placed of the supporters once they are inside the arenas, makes the whole exercise ‘pointless’.
“I feel the fans would be disappointed, I really do,” the former Man City and West Ham winger told talkSPORT host Jim White.
“You’d miss the atmosphere and the buzz around the stadium. That buzz outside the stadium, and inside the stadium at half-time…
“The crowd noise, we’ve all watched it on TV and listened to the [simulated] crowd noise and it’s not bad, but it’s not going to anything like that in the stadium with these kind of numbers.
COVID WINTER PLAN
Sports fans back in stadia from 2nd Dec
4⃣K or 50% of capacity in Tier 1
2⃣K or 50% of capacity in Tier 2
A big step forward for fans as we work towards fuller capacities
Thanks to pilot hosts & fans for showing this can be done [email protected] pic.twitter.com/YKJnc7JAx0
— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) November 23, 2020
“You’ve got a handful of people going to stadiums that can house 60,000 or 70,000 people.
“Going down the pyramid I think it would be worthwhile, not just because you want to see your team but because you’re almost going to get a similar atmosphere because the smaller stadiums can allow decent crowds.
“But if you’re going to one of the Premier League or Championship clubs, it’s a waste of time.
“If you’re talking about going to AFC Fylde, who have maybe a 6,000 capacity and you can allow 4,000 in there, or 50 per cent of the capacity, it might be worth going.
“You might feel that buzz, it’s half-full but it’s still not bad. It would be similar to what we know as the normal going to a game.
“But if you’re going to Old Trafford or Anfield or the Etihad Stadium, and you’ve got 4,000 fans in there, what’s the point?”
Of course, rival fans might argue that it would be a quite normal experience for Man City supporters.
“Jokes aside, though, Sinclair is not a fan of the plans to re-open stadiums and insists he won’t be taking his children to any games until COVID fears are gone for good.”
The former England international says you can’t trust other spectators to play by the rules.
“When you look at the stats, research suggests only 20 per cent of people are actually self-isolating when they’re told to,” he added.
“So you could have three or four people in and around you that have been told to self-isolate and they aren’t, they’re at a match and all of a sudden you get COVID too.
“So, for me, I won’t be taking my kids to any games and, actually looking those restrictions, what is the point?”
Meanwhile, former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen has also hit back at the ‘unfair’ plans, which will only see fans return to stadiums in lower-risk areas of England, with grounds in high-risk tier 3 areas set to remain closed.
The Dutchman has told the talkSPORT Breakfast either all Premier League clubs should be allowed to have fans back, or none at all.
“It’s not a fair situation if some clubs can have fans in & some can’t.”
“It’s for all to see what effect it has when there’s no fans in stadiums.”
Rene Meulensteen says either all PL clubs should be allowed to have fans back or none at all.
Do you agree with Rene? pic.twitter.com/HjTZkCiCnO
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) November 25, 2020
Meulensteen said: “What if, shall we say, Manchester United are allowed to have fans back, but Arsenal are not?
“Fans will make a difference to the teams, they make a noise. I think it’s for all to see what an effect it has when they’re no fans in the stadiums.
“It’s obviously good, we want to see fans back in the stadiums, but if some clubs are not allowed fans back in, it’s not a fair situation because one clubs gets helped by the fans and the other club doesn’t.”
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