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Danger of chanting and singing at football games could mean reduced crowds all season

Professor James Calder says that the risks posed by chanting and singing at football games could make it 'very difficult' for fans to return Picture: STEVE WALLER

Professor James Calder says that the risks posed by chanting and singing at football games could make it 'very difficult' for fans to return Picture: STEVE WALLER

Steve Waller

A leading government adviser has suggested that the risks posed by chanting and singing at football games could make the return of fans ‘very difficult’.

Ipswich Town will begin their season behind closed doors on September 12Ipswich Town will begin their season behind closed doors on September 12

Professor James Calder - who chaired the cross-sport working group with government and health officials on the return to sport - told the BBC that the whole of next season may have to be played in front of reduced crowds because of the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

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Pilot sporting events are being held as it’s hoped that small crowds may be able to return in October but Professor Calder said it’s very unlikely that full stadiums will be allowed in the near future.

“I would be very surprised if we could get full stadia back this year,” he explained. “Realistically I think it probably will need a vaccine and also a high take-up rate of that vaccine before we can really see full capacity stadia.”

Asked about whether there was the potential for the entirety of the next football season to be played in front of reduced capacities, he said: “Possible, yep... I think realistically we will be under scrutiny for the next year, certainly this side of Christmas and probably for the rest of the season.”

As it stands, Ipswich Town will begin their new League One saeson on September 12, behind closed doors, with the hope that some fans could return the following month.

But Professor Calder warned that chanting and singing at games may increase the risk of spreading coronavirus, and thus make it harder for fans to return.

He said: “We need to know, actually, does it matter if you’re shouting, how far will those droplets spread?

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“At a football or a rugby match, the fans are going to be shouting and chanting and singing, I hope, and we need to be sure that the people in front of them are as safe as possible.

“Now if there is no massive droplet spread, well OK, we can keep within the social distancing that we’ve put down for, say, the (test events) Crucible and The Oval. But if it is a problem, then we need to rethink the social distancing within the stadia, and that becomes very difficult.”


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