The SPFL will offer Premiership club supporters a ‘virtual season ticket’ in partnership with Sky, while French football clubs call for government support after early suspension…
The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) has teamed up with broadcast partner Sky Sports to offer fans of Premiership clubs a ‘virtual season ticket’ for closed doors matches held during the 2020-21 season.
The announcement today (Wednesday) comes after the SPFL declared last month that the 2019-20 Premiership season would end with immediate effect, with Celtic crowned champions and Hearts relegated to the Championship.
The season was halted on March 13 due to COVID-19 and SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said the cancellation would allow the body to pay out around £7m (€7.85m/$8.8m) in fees to help clubs stay afloat during the crisis.
The SPFL and Sky have now agreed terms that provide a framework for the top-flight of Scottish football to resume in August. Premiership clubs will create a virtual season ticket for the 2020-21 season, providing an alternative source of matchday income while social distancing measures prevent fans from attending matches. During the 2020-21 season, each Premiership club will be able to sell a package to season ticket holders to watch all home games.
Gabriele Gravina, the president of the Italian Football Federation, has expressed his hope to allow a small number of supporters to return to matches after it was announced that the season would finish behind closed doors.
Serie A, the top division of football in the country, along with the lower leagues, has been absent since March 9 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but will return to action in mid-June and is scheduled to end in early August.
Gravina told Italian radio this week, according to The 42: “Fans in stadiums? It is my heartfelt wish to be able to see a small presence in stadium for the end of the championship.
“It seems unthinkable that in a stadium with 60,000 or 80,000 seats, there is no space for a minimal percentage of spectators who can attend the match with all necessary precautions.”
Fans returned to Hungarian league games last weekend under social distancing rules.
French football clubs have called on the government “to find solutions” to support teams struggling to stay afloat after three months without ticketing and broadcasting revenues.
The Ligue 1 season was suspended at the end of April with 10 rounds of matches still to play. Several club executives claim the early end to the season has seen French football suffer losses of between €500m and €800m.
Those clubs hit hardest have called for fans to be allowed into matches ahead of the 2020-21 season.
In a joint statement yesterday (Tuesday), the unions of clubs in the top two divisions said the league and French Football Federation were left with “no other choice” but to end the season following the government’s announcement.
The statement added, AFP reports: “But rather than looking in the rear-view mirror, we prefer to look forward.”
It also said it was working on a “health protocol,” while also hoping to “organise training camps and friendly matches in the presence of spectators, with the start of next season in stadiums open to large crowds”.
Premier League football club Chelsea has announced its ticket refund process will include an option to donate to charities.
The club said it will provide an “easy” way for supporters to donate outstanding ticket credits or season ticket refunds to Refuge, NHS Charities Together and Plan International.
The club currently has a programme matching contributions made to Refuge, which provides specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic violence, and that programme will apply to these refunds.
Chelsea’s season ticket holders, including hospitality ticket holders and those on the UK away scheme, will be contacted by the end of this week to inform them of the credit or refund process for the remaining Premier League games. Individual match ticket holders for the remaining games will also be contacted regarding refunds.
The Premier League season will restart behind closed doors on Wednesday, June 17.
Most Premier League clubs have confirmed they will issue full refunds to fans for tickets and season tickets when it has been confirmed that matches will take place behind closed doors.
Image: SPFL Twitter