*(Updated April 20, 2021)*
The question of how the coronavirus is affecting the English football leagues is obviously on many people’s minds. We have some basic Q&A below, and we’re tracking the latest news.
Is English soccer happening during the pandemic?
Some is. The Premier League season started the weekend of September 12. Here is the full schedule. Leagues through tier 5 are also happening, as are the FA Cup (schedule), League Cup (schedule), Champions League (schedule) and Europa League (schedule).
The National League North and South, at tier 6, abandoned their seasons in March, as did tiers beneath that.
Can supporters go to soccer games in the UK?
Soon. The government announced, on Feburary 22, a “roadmap to reopening” that allows some fans starting May 17, which would include the last round of Premier League fixtures on May 23. This would be 10,000 fans or 25% capacity, whichever is smaller.
Because that would only include one round of games, home teams that weekend would have an advantage, so the previous weekend of games, set for May 15-16, have been moved to midweek after the 17th, so everybody gets one home game with fans.
Meanwhile, several games are involved in a test effort before May 17, allowing a small number of fans with testing and tracing: one FA Cup semifinal, the EFL Cup Final on April 24, and the FA Cup Final on May 1.
But if you’re not a season-ticket holder for an English club this hardly matters, because …
How hard will getting English soccer tickets be after reopening?
When spectators can return, the question of how clubs will allocate these tickets is still being sorted out. But it’s safe to assume that bigger clubs will have a lottery (which in the UK is called a “ballot”) among season ticket holders.
We suspect the general public will be frozen out until next season, which should start in August. And, at this point, it’s unlikely stadiums will open at full capacity then.
Will next season start on time?
Yes. The Premier League season will start the weekend of August 14, and the English Football League said its 2021-22 season will start the weekend of August 7. A full fixtures announcement date for the EFL and Premier League has yet to be announced but is traditionally released in mid-June.
Can supporters attend soccer games in Europe?
Other European countries have been on a similar path: limited access with restrictions like social distancing, no beer, health data tracking, time-stamped entry, no away fans, etc. But in the latest virus surge, many countries (and therefore leagues) are closing doors again.
None of this matters much for Americans, though, because…
Can Americans even go to Europe or the UK right now?
Americans are banned from entering most countries in Europe, and can only go to the UK with a quarantine on arrival — which for most people is effectively the same as saying “no.”
Here is much more on current travel restrictions from Groundhopper Guides, including links for non-Americans. And here is the US State Department advisory page for the UK.
If I have a ticket for a game that’s been postponed, do I get a refund?
Whoever you bought your ticket from, contact them. Most clubs seem to have refunded regular tickets in cash and hospitality packages as a credit for future purchases.
Groundhopper Guides clients are getting a 100% refund as a credit towards future purchases, with no expiration date.
Are soccer clubs going to fold because of Covid?
Yes, and some already have, since most lower-league clubs depend massively on ticket sales for revenue. Here’s more on that. This is like a tsunami hitting the world of soccer, and some things are just not going to survive. Many clubs had to lay people off, and some asked players to take a pay cut.
Here is a good video on the economic impact on English clubs, from back in March 2020.