In the event that fans are banned from attending football games as a result of any preventative measures that could come into force, games could be made available free to air on television.
It has been reported by Matt Hughes of the Daily Mail that sports leaders were told at a meeting at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that there is currently no present need to cancel events where large numbers of people would gather.
There are, however, said to be contingency plans in place and that close contact with the government on the matter will continue.
In Italy, the country worst hit by the virus in Europe, all Serie A games are to be played behind closed doors until at least early April. Meanwhile, as many as 16 million people in the north of country are set to be affected by new quarantine enforcements in an attempt to get the spread under control.
Inter have already played one European game behind closed doors, and are set to again this week. Atalanta will be subject to the same in their Champions League game in Spain.
Sports leaders told no need to cancel events or restrict crowds at present in meeting at DCMS this morning, but contingency plans being put in place. Daily talks with govt will continue.
— Matt Hughes (@MattHughesDM) March 9, 2020
Confirmed cases in France have now exceeded 1,100 and the government has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people. Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund this week will be played in an empty stadium.
In the UK, the number of cases has been climbing daily and a fourth death has now been confirmed. The strategy to fight the virus has already moved on from ‘contain’ to ‘delay’.
Despite the government so far resisting a ban on mass gatherings or major quarantines like in other European nations, the Premier League and FA were reported earlier this month to have held talks over possible implications of playing games in closed stadiums.
If going behind closed doors does become necessary, The Times report that subscription television channels could be asked to broadcast games free of charge to help combat the further spread of the virus. The logic behind it is that banning fans from stadiums could end up driving people onto pubs to watch games instead, if their only other option is to pay to watch at home.
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