BBC News

Covid-19: Delia Smith urges PM to reopen football grounds

Published
media captionCovid-19: Delia Smith calls for fans' return to stadiums

Celebrity chef Delia Smith has written to the prime minister urging him to allow football fans back into stadiums.

The Norwich City director warned that smaller clubs could be at risk of closure unless supporters were able to watch live games again soon.

In an open letter, she said having distanced spectators was a "far better option than six round a table inside".

The government has set up a taskforce to look at how fans might return to stadiums.

Plans to reopen higher-level football grounds to supporters were postponed by the government in September amid rising Covid-19 cases.

Delia is asking Boris Johnson to make a speedy decision on an agreed number of fans to be allowed into grounds to watch games.

She proposes temperature checks before entry, seating people two metres apart, hand sanitising and the wearing of masks.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe celebrity chef and Norwich City director believes smaller clubs are at risk of closure

Her letter, published on Norwich City's website, said: "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 a community in contemporary life.

"Clubs at the heart of communities are saving the government and the taxpayer some of the high costs of youth crime. PS: Let me know if ever you want tickets to a game."

It is not the first time Delia has made a fan-related plea: in 2005, she famously took to the Carrow Road turf at half-time to urge Canaries supporters to turn up the volume, during what was a trying Premier League campaign.

"A message to the best supporters in the world," she said. "We need a 12th man here. Where are you? Where are you? Let's be having you! Come on!"

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionDelia Smith is joint majority shareholder at Norwich City

Several clubs, including Norwich, have allowed a limited number of supporters to watch matches on TV screens in the hospitality areas of their grounds.

Social-distancing guidelines for hospitality venues, relevant to what tier they are in, must be observed and fans are blocked from having a direct view of the pitch.

Vue cinemas have also been screening Premier League matches, including the recent Merseyside derby.

David Ross, chairman of the taskforce set up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said: "We know how crucial sport is to the social fabric of our communities, as well as the local businesses who rely on it.

"This group of experts will do all it can to come up with solutions that can help bring back live sport for the millions of fans who are missing it as much as we do."

Find BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email eastofenglandnews@bbc.co.uk

Related Topics

  • Coronavirus lockdown measures
  • Self-isolation
  • Norwich

More on this story

  • Covid-19: Delia Smith calls for fans' return to stadiums