*This article also appears on Lincoln City fan site The Stacey West*
Get back in the cinema says Boris Johnson.
The O2 announces a socially distanced gig in December as the nation tries to forge ahead in the face of growing pandemic concerns. However, one demographic that seems to be completely overlooked is us, football supporters. I suppose there’s no financial pressure for football to return. The big clubs don’t need gate receipts to survive, why push too hard, right?
What I find really distasteful is the Prime Minister’s comments around going to the cinema. So Cineworld, a corporation that has never been renowned for cheap ticket prices, threatens to pull the plug on all it’s screens and there’s suddenly panic at the top. Football, which fights on regardless, gets nothing. I see no attempt to press on with the socially distanced experiments of a few weeks ago, and it makes no real sense. A cinema, an enclosed space, can show a football match, but you can’t go and sit outside to watch one in person
The rules are so utterly ridiculous that this weekend, Wealdstone were due to face Chesterfield behind closed doors. The game was called off, but the rules allowed them to show the game in their clubhouse and admit supporters, socially distanced of course. However, because the windows of the clubhouse looked out onto the pitch, the club was going to have to blackout the windows so supporters could only watch on TV. There is no sense here, no reasoning or seemingly sensible debate. The rule is a shambles, pure and simple.
I never truly bought into the threat of a League 3, but the way things are going football is becoming a TV show and not a live spectator sport. Some clubs, such as MK Dons, could admit their average home attendance from last season and socially distance at the same time, but it is seemingly just not up for debate. Fans cannot come in, pure and simple. Why? The dangers of covid? If that is the case, why encourage people to go to cinemas this month? Why get them pouring into restaurants in August? Where is common sense?
Of all the places I have been since lockdown, the restaurants, takeaways, days out, shops and Sincil Bank, you know where the tightest restrictions were in place? Sincil Bank. The place is like a military camp during a matchday and I’m convinced that the club’s staff could deliver something akin to a matchday experience, even if it were to 2,000 socially distanced fans. They’re certainly safer than my local supermarket, where people wander freely without masks without a care in the world. The same will be the case for 75% of clubs up and down the country, I’m sure.
Why is football suffering? Why can the Royal Albert Hall reopen at 50% capacity, but non-league Wealdstone have to blackout windows to prevent sneaky fans from watching through glass, rather than on a screen? Why is football being left to die in a corner like an unwanted, unloved pet? It makes NO SENSE.
That’s why you must sign this petition, for football fans everywhere. This issue needs debating and it needs pressing into the public consciousness as much as possible. At the time of writing, there are 27,000 signatures on it. If it gets to 100,000, then parliament will have to debate the situation and hopefully, we can get to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Please, take five minutes out of your day to sign, it might just save your football club.