FA’s Greg Clarke says fans unlikely to be able to attend matches ‘any time soon’ | Football

The Football Association chairman, Greg Clarke, fears fans will not be returning to football stadiums “any time soon”.

“The reality is that we just don’t know how things are going to pan out,” Clarke said in a letter to the FA Council sent on Friday. “But with social distancing in place for some time to come, we do face substantial changes to the whole football ecosystem.

“For example it’s hard to foresee crowds of fans, who are the lifeblood of the game, returning to matches any time soon,” said Clarke, who warned of a “worst-case scenario” of FA budget cuts for the next four years.

Clarke also said the FA board has agreed a “sensible” £75m budget cut amid the uncertainty surrounding a resumption. “In a worst-case scenario, this would be necessary for the next four years to offset a £300m deficit,” he added.

The Premier League and EFL accept that any resumption must take place behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, top-flight clubs were told the remaining matches of the 2019-20 season must be played at neutral venues. A number of clubs are reported to have raised concerns, with the Brighton chief executive, Paul Barber, voicing his opposition to the idea on Saturday.

The Norwich manager, Daniel Farke, has offered his support to the Premier League, saying he trusts them to find a solution. “If by not finishing the season we save one life, then we should do that,” Farke told Sky Sports on Monday.

“I totally trust the key people at the Premier League that have to make the decisions and not easy decisions because there are disadvantages for every scenario,” Farke said. “[Norwich] deserve the chance to work on our little miracle and stay in this league … we should try everything we can to finish the season.”

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