Brentford Football Club is supporting the EFL in its efforts to achieve the safe return of fans to stadia and is working with local MPs, our Safety Advisory Group and fans to develop and implement detailed plans to achieve it. The EFL and other sporting bodies met with Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, yesterday to discuss the financial impact that Covid-19 is having on the sports sector and issues around the partial return of fans to sports events which is currently under review by the Government. In the meeting, the EFL stressed that the safety of fans and staff remains paramount and outlined the extensive arrangements that will be put in place to ensure the controlled return of fans follows all relevant public health guidelines.
Eight EFL games (including two Sky Bet Championship fixtures) will be allowed to permit up to 1,000 fans this weekend as part of the ongoing ‘return of fans’ pilot programme to build the evidence base for a safe return of fans in greater numbers. The EFL expressed concerns in the meeting with the Government about the serious financial situation that is now facing clubs across the country and the significant economic implications for clubs if they continue to operate behind closed doors. The EFL statement following this meeting can be read here.
Brentford FC are working closely with representatives from our Safety Advisory Group to confirm the matchday protocols and procedures at our new stadium in order to achieve a safety certificate that permits the entry of fans. Having never had fans inside our new home, Brentford FC is in a different position to any other club aiming to get supporters at games but is working hard to do it safely and speedily. At the same time, the Club is supporting the EFL in its efforts to demonstrate the need for the safe return of fans as soon as it is possible to do so.
Jon Varney, Brentford FC Chief Executive, said: “This is a particularly challenging time for both our fans and our Club and the safety of all concerned must of course remain as the utmost priority. At the same time, we are confident, based on the behind closed doors games we’ve already held, that we have the expertise and experience to put in place the appropriate social distancing and safety measures to protect fans and staff with the reduced capacities that were being suggested.
“I would like to put on record our thanks for the help we are continuing to receive from everyone involved to find a solution to the controlled return of fans, including the EFL, the London Borough of Hounslow, the Sports Ground Safety Authority, our local Safety Advisory Group and from our local MPs and fan groups and I hope that by continuing to work together we will be able to safely welcome our fans back to watch live games soon.”
Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, said: “As a close neighbour of the Club’s former Griffin Park home and someone with a long association with the Club, I know what a disappointment it’s been for Brentford fans that they weren’t able to see their team’s last ever games at the stadium last season and it is doubly tragic that they are not yet able to watch their team at their fantastic new multi-million pound stadium. Brentford Football Club and its fans are right at the heart of our west London community and we need to bring them back together at their new stadium in a safe and distanced way as soon as we can.”
Seema Malhotra, MP for Feltham and Heston, commented: “Brentford Football Club is an important and influential business in our local economy and plays a big part in supporting young people and the community. The Club has been severely impacted financially by the behind closed door games last season and is facing an incredibly challenging few months with reduced capacity crowds at a time when they have just invested in a state-of-the-art new stadium. A huge amount of work has been undertaken by the Club, working with the local Safety Advisory Group, the EFL and the Sports Ground Safety Authority, to accommodate fans safely and maintain social distancing. What’s needed now is some clarity from the Government on when fans can return.”
Stewart Purvis, Chairman of Bees United – the Brentford Supporters’ Trust, said: “We fully support the Club and the EFL in the campaign to get fans back into grounds as soon and as safely as possible.”
Adam Hobbs, Chairman of BIAS – the Brentford Independent Association of Supporters, added: “The fans have been pivotal in the survival of the Club and the move to the new Community Stadium. We fully support the campaign to help bring fans back to football grounds as safely and quickly as possible.”