Arsenal are set to take on Sheffield United at the end of June in the Quarter-Final of the FA Cup, with the semis and the Final expected to be played at Wembley.
The Final is due on the 1st August, two months from today, and they are already talking about allowing fans to return to games starting with the Final. And not just a few fans, they are talking about 20,000 fans, with half coming from each team.
According to a report in the Mirror, a football administrator said: “Fans will be allowed back to see sport at some stage – not just in football.
“We already know there’s no chance of grounds opening up and being filled to capacity.
“But discussions have taken place about a phased return of spectators when Government health advice allows.
“That will be in smaller, manageable numbers at first and Wembley would seem a good place to start as it’s the country’s biggest stadium.”
The theory is that this will be possible if the rate of infection is less than 0.5 by the time the two months is up, but all that tells me is that they fully expect the virus to carry on killing people for a long long time.
While many European countries are allowing their citizens to relax some restrictions because it looks like the virus is coming under control, the UK government has hardly stopped anyone from doing anything at all, as the massive crowds at beaches last weekend showed (and of course their reaction to the Dominic Cummings saga speaks volumes about their real intentions).
Now they are relaxing even more any advice that may stop the spread of the virus, despite the death toll continuing to be much much higher than other European countries.
Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, president of the ADPH (Association of Directors of Public Health), told Radio 4’s Today programme there was a need to balance easing of restrictions with the risk of causing a resurgence in infections.
“A lot of people including local directors of public health across the country are increasingly concerned that the government is misjudging this balancing act and lifting too many of the restrictions too quickly,” she said.
“The five tests haven’t yet been met.
“In terms of the R (a measure of infections produced per person) it’s 0.7 to 0.9, in the latest government assessment it is below one, but it’s a very limited room for manoeuvre and we know how quickly this virus can spread.”
The UK already has by far the highest death toll in Europe at over 38,000, and with the restriction advice being relaxed, that is only going to keep on growing. Can you imagine in two months time going onto crowded trains and buses and visiting a packed football ground, if the infection rate is still as high as 0.5 then I fear how high the death toll will be by then…