*(Updated March 30, 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,” and while the details are fuzzy, it’s conceivable that for the last round of Premier League games on May 17, there could be some fans.
The BBC (story) and others have since reported it could be up to 10,000 fans at the last two rounds of Premier League games in May, and The Athletic reported (story) that the FA Cup Final on May 15 could also have an as-yet undetermined number of fans, and the BBC (story) says that at least one of the FA Cup semifinals will have some fans, as well.
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.
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.