‘Grown-up logic tells us...’ - Delia’s letter to Boris Johnson on behalf of City fans
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
Norwich City’s joint majority shareholder Delia Smith has written an open letter to prime minister Boris Johnson calling for the government to allow some spectators to return to football matches.
The Canaries were able to welcome 1,000 season ticket holders back to Carrow Road for the 2-2 draw with Preston in September, spaced out in their ‘bubbles’ of six people in the South Stand, with social distancing in place, masks worn other than when sat in their seat, temperature checks on arrival and stringent hygiene rules in place.
That was the first time since February that City supporters had been able to watch their team live, after the season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Norwich having to play their remaining 10 games behind closed doors when the Premier League campaign resumed in June.
The Preston game was one of a few pilot games approved by the EFL as part of steps towards limited numbers returning across the country, working with the government.
However, a rise in Covid-19 numbers and the subsequent three-tiered system of localised restrictions put in place saw that swiftly finished and football has continued behind closed doors.
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As the EFL continues to negotiate a financial bailout to prevent clubs lower in the pyramid going out of business, due to the loss of match-day revenue but games continuing, City have started applying pressure for a step back towards normality.
The Canaries were bracing for a loss in expected income of around £12million due to the pandemic and that will continue to rise, with season ticket holders given rebates or the option of moving their direct debit payments over as payment for the 2021-22 season.
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Saturday’s 1-0 win over Wycombe saw ‘Let Fans In’ messages appearing on advertising boards, as small numbers of fans are currently allowed to watch matches in the lounges at Carrow Road.
Around 200 recently watched the 2-1 win at Rotherham but it’s around 100 for home games as the Top of the Terrace lounge in the Barclay Stand can not be used, due to having pitch-facing windows.
Here is the open letter in full...
I know what you are going through and how inexplicably difficult it all is. And here am I, one more letter to read and one more plea for help. Sorry. The good news is I am not asking for money, and the second bit of good news is, what I am asking for is something very positive and uplifting, in the midst of these dark and gloomy times.
Please, please can you make a decision to allow just a percentage of football supporters into the ground to watch games.
Grown up logic tells us what even the scientists must agree with: temperature checks, with supporters two metres apart, hand sanitising, masks, and so much empty space, distancing and open air has to be perfectly safe, and what’s more it’s a far better option than six round a table watching a match inside. Channel Four news filmed this all happening at Carrow Road on September 19th. And it honestly worked like a dream.
Looking ahead to the possibility and consequences of smaller clubs ceasing to exist, we need to remind ourselves that football is one of the last bastions of what it means to be community in contemporary life.
How many times do we hear the words ‘stronger together’? It gives the young a sense of belonging, no need to join a gang. It also manages to transcend colour, racism, class and age.
Clubs at the heart of communities are saving the government and the taxpayer some of the high costs of youth crime. Whilst the charitable Football Foundations working alongside the clubs make an enormous contribution to those in most need in the communities they serve. Again, saving the taxpayer. What we all need is good news, hope and what you could get is a whole stash of brownie points.
England invented the beautiful game, which has become much more than that. An unsung gem that makes an enormous contribution to our society at no cost. Please prime minister, before the final whistle is blown, can we have our football back?
Director, Norwich City Football Club
PS: Let me know if ever you want tickets to a game.