Due to the coronavirus pandemic, English football fans have been unable to attend major matches since March 11th, when Liverpool were defeated by Atletico Madrid at Anfield in an event that may have exposed many to the virus. The sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, has recently confirmed that officials are working towards allowing football fans inside stadiums from 1 October. Prior to this date, The Community Shield and Women’s Super League matches are being considered as test events, although Huddleston has warned that if football fans do not obey social distancing rules in test events, then the reopening of stadiums will be further pushed back.
In our latest set of polling, a strong majority (58%) of the public stated that they support a Premier League or Championship football team. Although it is unclear what proportion of this group regularly attends football matches in person, the Government’s decision on when to re-open stadiums is likely to impact the social lives of a significant proportion of the UK population. Moreover, our polling did not include the option to select support for a lower league team or a Scottish team, and therefore the percentage of the British public who support a football club could be even higher.
Among those who indicated that they support a Premier League or Championship football team, a clear majority (55%) agree with the Government’s current decision to allow football fans back into stadiums from October onwards. Only 21% of the football-supporting public disagree with the Government’s current timetable, while a further 21% neither agree nor disagree.
The overwhelming majority (96%) of those who do not support the Government’s current timetable for re-opening football stadiums are not in favour because they believe stadiums should re-open later. A negligible proportion of football supporters consider that stadiums should open sooner than October.
Ultimately, although the majority of the UK public expresses support for a football team playing in the top two divisions, fans are in no rush to return to stadiums. A clear majority supports the Government’s current timetable for re-opening in October, over two months away, highlighting that Brits are well adapted to a ‘new normal’ of watching games at empty grounds on television screens. Any opposition to Government policy is due to the belief that the Government is acting too speedily, rather than too slowly.