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MPs to debate topic of spectator attendance at football matches during pandemic

MPs to debate topic of spectator attendance at football matches during pandemic

MPs are to debate an e-petition later related to spectator attendance at football matches, as grounds have been closed to the public during the Coronavirus pandemic.

A petition calling for football fans to be allowed to attend matches at all levels has so far attracted more than 199,000 signatures. In the petition, it is argued: "Football is a powerful tool of which allows a range of benefits such as employment, and other important aspects of life. Football can be associated with passion, emotion, excitement and dedication across the community. With Fans attending football games a range of economic benefits are there too."

The Government has already responded to the petition saying that it will "take the earliest opportunity to look again at getting spectators safely back into stadia but this must clearly be done carefully against the prevailing health conditions."

However, many football fans and clubs have been unhappy with this response.

Prior to the second national lockdown in England, a variety of indoor venues (which are usually deemed less covid-safe than outdoor venues) were allowed to be open, including significant parts of the hospitality sector. Successful pilots to test fans being allowed into stadia with social distancing for games were also held, however, a rise in Coronavirus cases saw these pilots and plans to allow limited numbers of fans into stadia put on hold.

Some have argued that allowing fans into stadia would be good for mental health, but also for the economy. Without revenues from fans attending matches, it is feared that many football clubs could face huge financial problems or even bankruptcy.

MPs will debate the petition in Westminster Hall from 16:30 on Monday, giving MPs a chance to question Government ministers directly on the issues.

The debate, which will last 90 minutes, follows a virtual 'roundtable meeting between a member of the Petitions Committee Jonathan Gullis MP with the petition creator Ashley Greenwood, Rick Parry, Chairman of the English Football League, and representatives of two clubs in Mr Gullis’s constituency – Port Vale and Stoke City.

A debate will also be held on Monday evening from 18:00 to discuss a petition calling for support for nightclubs, dance music events and festivals during the Coronavirus pandemic, plus a petition arguing for the number of guests permitted at weddings to be increased according to venue capacity.

The debates can be watched live on Parliament TV.

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