WARRINGTON Wolves fans will not be able to attend matches to watch their heroes live any time soon.

Plans to allow the phased return of spectators into sporting venues in England from October 1 will be put on hold, possibly for as long as six months, due to fears over a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove announced the decision this morning and Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the position in his lunchtime statement.

A range of restrictions were announced in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister, including those related to mass gatherings.

“We have to acknowledge that the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events,” he said.

“So we will not be able to do this from October 1 and I recognise the implications for our sports clubs which are the life and soul of our communities, and my right honourable friends the Chancellor and the Culture Secretary are working urgently on what we can do now to support them.”

He said the measures announced today would remain in place for “perhaps six months”.

Spectators had been set to return to sporting events from the start of next month on a socially distanced basis, with capacities set to be limited to between 25 and 35 per cent.

The news is a devastating blow to sports clubs across the country, many of whom rely heavily on match-day revenue for survival, and there have already been calls from sports governing bodies for the government to provide emergency funding.

This all comes as a further financial blow to Super League clubs, who have been playing behind closed doors since the return from the UK lockdown while there are also Challenge Cup semi-finals and the final itself to come next month.

Plans to host 1,000-capacity crowds at four Super League fixtures next week will have to be scrapped.

The Rugby Football League last week unveiled plans for socially distant crowds at Wigan, Leeds, Huddersfield and Castleford on September 30.

“It’s clearly very disappointing,” RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer told BBC 5 Live. “We spoke with the Secretary of State last week who was very supportive in developing a road map back to full crowds and the pilot schemes were the first step in that.

“The push on the 1,000 crowds would be disappointing if that was to be pushed backwards.”

Gove told BBC Breakfast: “It was the case that we were looking at a staged programme of more people returning.

“It wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans, we’re looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme.

“But what we do want to do is to make sure is that as and when circumstances allow get more people back.

“We have to look at sporting events with caution.”


Gove added: “We also recognise that sport’s a vital part of the life of the nation and we’re looking at everything we can do to support our athletes and our great clubs at what is a challenging time.

“We have been piloting some open-air venues and we do want people to be watching sport.

“It is the case that we need to be cautious at the moment. A mass reopening would not be appropriate at the moment. We do need to proceed with caution.”

The UK’s chief medical officers recommended on Monday that the Covid-19 alert level should be moved from three to four, which means the transmission of the virus is “high or rising exponentially”.