Survey reveals three-quarters of fans ready to make immediate return to stadiums

Coronavirus – Wed Jul 21, 2021
(Image credit: Yui Mok)

Three-quarters of fans are ready to make an immediate return to football stadiums in the new season, but a survey found almost half of them would feel more comfortable if a vaccine passport was required for entry.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this week that the Government planned to make proof of full coronavirus vaccination mandatory for nightclubs and other venues “where large crowds gather” by the end of September.

The attitudes of almost 5,000 fans towards returning to stadiums have been gauged in a new Football Supporters’ Association survey. It found that while 74.8 per cent are keen to make an immediate return, 46.9 per cent would feel much more comfortable, or somewhat more comfortable, if proof of vaccination or a negative test were required for entry.

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A vaccine passport was even more of a concern among the 22 per cent of respondents who said they would not be returning straight away, with 67.7 per cent of that group saying such a scheme would make them much more comfortable or somewhat more comfortable.

The Premier League and EFL are understood to be considering the practicalities of Covid certification, having publicly expressed support for a review of such a scheme in April.

Proof of vaccination or a negative test were conditions of entry to events which featured in the Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) in June and earlier this month, such as Wimbledon and England’s Euro 2020 matches at Wembley.

The survey also found almost 40 per cent of football fans intending to return to stadiums next season would feel uncomfortable doing so if masks were mandatory.

Face coverings ceased to be a legal requirement in England from Monday, with clubs yet to confirm their plans on whether they will be mandatory in some or all areas of their grounds in the coming campaign.

Face masks have become a common sight within football grounds since the start of the pandemic

Face masks have become a common sight within football grounds since the start of the pandemic (PA)

Among fans who expressed an intention to return to watching football within 12 months, 38.7 per cent of supporters said being forced to wear a mask would make them uncomfortable.

A smaller percentage – 30.6 per cent – of supporters intending to return within 12 months said they would feel comfortable with masks being mandated.

The 22 per cent who said they would not return straight away expressed a variety of reasons for their apprehension.

Just over half of that group (50.3 per cent) said they wanted to see that things were being safely managed by clubs before returning, with four in 10 in that group saying they would wait until Covid cases started to drop.

Just under a quarter of the group (23.8 per cent) wanted to see a greater uptake of vaccines before going back.

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