Sports News

Clubs ready to innovate to ensure fan safety, says Palace chairman

(Reuters) - Premier League clubs will spare no expense to ensure the safe return of fans to stadiums amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish said.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace v Manchester City - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - October 19, 2019 Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish before the match Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers/File photo

Spectators have been either prohibited or allowed in limited numbers as part of pilot programmes at soccer games in England due to the pandemic, which has claimed more than 42,000 lives in the United Kingdom as per a Reuters tally.

The British government was hoping to allow the return of 25-33% capacity crowds from Oct. 1 but last month Prime Minister Boris Johnson put those plans on hold as part of new restrictions to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Supporters could return in limited numbers with distancing... and there are a whole range of additional measures we would be willing to take — even if those came at significant cost,” Parish wrote in his column for the Times.

“We are trialling a new machine that tests for COVID-19 and returns the result within 30 seconds... You breathe into a disposable bag and it costs 5 pounds ($6.45) per test.

“They claim 85% accuracy and the technology used is continually improving. We will see how it goes but it is worth taking some initiative and trying out such solutions.”

Parish said the return of spectators would provide a much-needed boost to the sport.

“Our games are not the same without them and football as a whole needs the fans back,” he added.

“Football has a good track record so far of keeping players and staff safe, and I feel sure we can extend it to the most important people in our sport — the fans.”

($1 = 0.7749 pounds)

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar