‘If cinemas can have socially distanced audiences, why can’t football?’ – West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady


For the Hammers director there is no logic in crowds being able to gather in indoor venues but not in spaces like football stadiums

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady has advocated a return of fans to stadiums, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, citing an ability for cinemagoers to socially distance.

There have been no fans present in grounds around England since a halt to play was called in mid-March over the escalating health crisis.

Steps have been taken in many industries for some sense of normality to return, albeit at a dramatically reduced capacity, but football continues to be overlooked – a fact not lost on Brady.

She says it was “ridiculous” that fans were locked out of last weekend’s Premier League fixtures, including heavy defeats for Manchester United and Liverpool at the hands of Tottenham and Aston Villa respectively.

“Fans are missing a bonanza and while all of us are aware of the reasoning behind the Government’s position, the logic behind our locked turnstiles is distinctly wonky,” she claimed in The Sun.

“If cinemas are allowed to socially distance audiences, why not football or, for that matter, rugby clubs?

“It would be perfectly possible, as an example, to separate people in a portion of one spectator to four seats. At the London Stadium this would limit the attendance to about 15,000.

“Any range of further measures are available — plastic partitions, masks, temperature tests, sanitisers, stewarded queues, alcohol bans.

“At smaller grounds, it should be possible to set the bar lower, perhaps at 1-3 or 1-2.

“If the Government allowed the same percentage capacity as they have granted the 02 and the Royal Albert Hall there would be no need for a bailout of League One and Two as this amount of gate revenue would be enough to save them.

“Is there any logic in allowing indoor venues to have crowds but football stadiums not to? If there is, no one has explained it to me or to anyone else in football.”

Meanwhile, Brady is not deaf to pleas from supporters to support lower-league clubs but says the Premier League already props up the Football League.

“Not a lot of people realise the PL already give £110m a year to the EFL, which means every Championship club gets £4.5m, League One club £700k and League Two club almost £500k,” she pointed out.

“And not to forget the £190m PL clubs spent on buying players from the EFL so far in this window.”


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