(Updated October 1, 2020)
The question of how the coronavirus is affecting the English football leagues is obviously on many people’s minds. I have some basic Q&A below, and I’m tracking the latest news.
When does soccer start again?
Premier League: The new season started the weekend of September 12. Here is the full schedule.
Football League (tiers two through four): has also started.
National League (tiers five and six): Season starts October 3.
Champions League and Europa League: Qualifying rounds for the 2020-21 tournaments are under way, and the group stages will start in October. Here’s a link to the whole schedule. There is no official word on attendance, since the games are in many different countries.
FA Cup: Qualifying begins in early September, a little late. Here is the full schedule.
Can Supporters Go to Games in the UK?
For a while now, the thinking was that in October, clubs would start to allow up to 30 percent capacity attendance. But on September 22, the government shot that down and said the current restrictions, including on all sport, would “probably be in place for six months.” This now applies to the top six tiers of English football
To me, that probably translates into no supporters in the stands during the 2020-21 season, from the Premier League down through the National League. But that’s not official.
What about other countries?
Other European countries are on a similar path: limited access with restrictions like social distancing, no beer, health data tracking, time-stamped entry, no away fans, etc.
According to ESPN.com, the current state of play in other countries is Germany letting 20% in (home fans only), Spain still at zero fans but hoping to change that in November, Italy hoping for 30% of supporters in October (but it’s not looking good), and France at 5,000 fans max per game, slowly building from there.
Can we even go to Europe or the UK right now?
The short answer for Americans is not to Europe, except for Ireland, and for the UK yes, with a 14-day quarantine on arrival — which for most people is effectively the same as saying “no.” The travel and airline industries are starting to push on this, and if US cases keep dropping, I think there will be movement on this fairly soon.
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 clubs going to fold because of this?
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.
The Premier League is now in talks with the Football League around a financial aid package of some £200-250 million. And the government is putting together a package of a few million pounds per month to help the National League clubs. It’s only because of that aid that they are starting their season as planned in October.
Here is a good video on the economic impact on English clubs, from back in March.