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The return of spectators?

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Earlier today, Boris Johnson suggested spectators might be allowed in sports stadia by October, subject to certain criteria and the results of trial events in other sports. Everyone attending a match would have to agree not to go if they have any symptoms, and observe some degree of social distancing while in their seats (presumably no physical contact after a goal, or banners being passed around).

This poses a lot of questions. Would you attend matches if it meant having to wear a mask or not being able to stop in the concourse en route to your seat? Is it feasible to socially distance at all when seats are so tightly packed together? Is it worth the cost (especially for smaller clubs) of opening the doors and employing all the usual matchday staff, if only a percentage of the normal capacity can be used? And if a club has more season ticket holders than available seats under social distancing guidelines, who gets to attend?

(A link to the story for anyone who's interested: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/53441670)

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I certainly think its feasible for larger clubs, that still have decent income from TV money, sponsorship etc. and larger stadium capacities.

They're still having to pay everyone else's wages, so having stewards, concourse staff etc. wouldn't be a huge burden on top of that, I wouldn't have thought.

Just thinking off the top of my head, Riverside capacity is 35,000(ish) but if every other seat was taped off in a chess board fashion to try and maintain social distancing, you're looking at a maximum of 15,000 (allowing for separation of home & away fans).

I reckon it should at least allow the larger clubs to break even, while getting back to some kind of normality. Probably not feasible though for smaller clubs.

Ordering food & drinks and going to the toilets would likely be awkward and face masks would be a must on the concourse (hopefully not mandatory when in your seat).

As for season ticket holders...there are often a fair few who can't attend anyway, so shouldn't be an issue.

Think it requires a certain amount of goodwill & tolerance from the fans, as some people are bound to be left disappointed, or underwhelmed.

 

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It's a really bad idea considering we're quite possibly going to have an even more devastating second wave come winter.

Just like pubs, I'll be staying well away.

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I reckon it's gonna struggle to reach 10,000 fans if they distance people properly.

I did some 'back of a fag packet' maths based only on the capacity and the number of 'numbered' blocks (which isn't very accurate I know as not all blocks have same number or seats but I couldn't find the exact values from a quick google).

But say you divide the stadium by the blocks, that's 88. Round the answer up and each block estimates at around 400 seats. Let's say each block has 15 rows each. So each block row would have about 27 seats. If distancing is applied I think you're at least having every other row and every other seat in the populated rows emptied. So that's 8 rows of 14 seats populated per block, which comes to 112 out of 400.

Times that again by the number of blocks and you don't even reach 10k. It's an estimation but especially when you consider if away fans are going to still be allowed in, I think you might struggle. Not only that but is the club going to open every stand in the stadium up and man them all for such low attendance? In a regular environment with such a low attendance expected (friendlies and low-crowd cup games), they'd put everyone in the one stand.

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I figured this was worth talking about as right now, the conversation seems to be aimed at people suggesting who gets prioritised in a phased return to stadiums.

I think the bigger issue is that you've got a core of season ticket holders that is about double or more than the expected numbers in a stadium when they get people back in. It's not about who gets in, it's about how you deal with those who don't.

How important is season ticket revenue to the club? Is it so important that they'll just pocket that money with no guarantee to anyone that they get a seat?

People are suggesting ways in which all holders get to see games but that means one visit every 2-3 games, which also means that you're no longer saving anything on the walk-up price, in fact you're paying up to triple that cost per match you can attend. Obviously walk-up prices won't exist right now so it won't technically be a comparison but that's part of why people buy them: to save money in the long run.

So do the club partially refund for each missed game? Or do they give the seats to 8,000 people and fully refund the rest? Can they even afford to refund anything? Maybe we can, others I'm not so sure.

All I know is that I want to renew, I really do, I really missed attending the RIverside every other week when we went into lockdown. But how can anyone justify it right now?

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For all the really original "it'll be more than the usual attendance for Boro anyway" jokes people want to make on social media, it's going to be a nightmare for the club to handle limited capacity. 

There's no way of doing it without upsetting a large section of fans whether that be via the loyalty point system, first people to renew, how long you've had your ST or on a rotational basis.

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I think the club have been trying their best by deliberately getting battered each home game will help in keeping fans away and numbers down. These measures were put in place in January. 2 months prior to the rest of the country going into lockdown.

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2 minutes ago, wilsoncgp said:

https://www.mfc.co.uk/news/season-card-sales-suspended

Season card sales have been suspended as we've sold about 6,000 now. I guess that shows just how hesitant people are to renew in these circumstances, I was expecting more but seems a good decision to suspend ASAP.

Sounds like everyone currently with a ST would probably get in when the grounds reopen then.

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On ‎7‎/‎31‎/‎2020 at 10:11 AM, boro-unger said:

Sounds like everyone currently with a ST would probably get in when the grounds reopen then.

Obviously no one knows the situation but it look's like the club are anticipating 33% ground capacity allowed, ( 10/11 thousand) but judging by what's happening in certain parts of the country with infections rising, I think October  may well be slightly ambitious.

Personally I feel that spectators/fans at grounds should be suspended till 2021, peoples health  and welfare has always got to come before any type of sport, its tough but much as I love my football that's just my opinion.

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New guidance for Gold Card Holders - https://www.mfc.co.uk/news/season-cards-202021-gold-card-holders-exclusive-purchase-period

 

 

 

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We've had spectators return to games for the last 4-5 games of the season here in Denmark. Every other seat is unavailable so there is no-one next to you, in front or behind you. My team has about 22.000 seats and we can sell approximately 8,500 seats this way. The first game was unnumbered seats but the after that all seats were numbered and every other seat was greyed out when purchasing. It's all available in blocks of 500, and if you are diagnosed with Covid-19 afterwards you contact the club and they will make sure that everyone in your block will get informed. 

Season ticket holders usually got about 24 hours in advance to get tickets before it was opened up for general sale. All games sold out and it's worked like a charm. People are generally very good at adhering to the rules and I don't think anyone has acually made any real complaints. 

It's obviously hard to control the queues outside the stadium, but they've tried to reduce that by giving two timeslots where you can enter the stadium. Say the game starts at 20:00. The bottom tier can enter between 18:50-19:20 and the top tier can enter between 19:25-19:55. The top tier won't be let out before the bottom tier has cleared out. 

I've felt fairly safe going to matches and haven't really given it much thought, but the virus is very much under control here with very few infected. I certainly don't think it's worse than going to a restaurant or shopping in one of the bigger stores which is inside.

I'd say the most positive aspect is the stadium looks full every time 🙂 We have a really shitty stadium with an athletics track around it so it's very open and our average is usually around 9k, so with 8,5k spread around the entire stadium it's looked good and the atmosphere has been really good. 

It's definately doable without too much hassle, but obviously require that the clubs really want it.

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