Manchester United chief operating officer Collette Roche says it is “bemusing” people can gather indoors in restaurants and hotels and watch football and yet the club cannot host spectators in an outdoor setting.
United have adapted their Old Trafford stadium so that 23,500 spectators could watch and be socially distanced under the coronavirus pandemic protocols.
However, there is a ban on spectators being allowed to enter stadia across sports due to the upsurge in infections in England — which has a huge economic impact on those hosting sporting events.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested in September this ban could remain in force for six months.
“It’s quite bemusing to understand why people can gather in other settings such as in a restaurant, or even in a cinema to watch football, when we know we’ve got the plans and the process is ready to deliver a match day here safely,” Roche told Sky.
“We spent around two months working with the government guidelines to develop the right processes and measures to make sure that we can have around 23,500 people in this stadium safely social distancing.”
She added that United had plans to introduce staggered arrival times for fans and temperature checks before entry to minimise risks.
The financial impact of the virus has affected football clubs across the board, although particularly hard hit are those in League One and Two (third and fourth tier) who have no lucrative TV contracts and rely more on those coming through the turnstiles.
However, even the giants such as United have been affected — they suffered a £70 million ($91 million) drop in expected revenue in the period to June 30 2020 as a direct result of it.