In a fight against a global pandemic, there is far more at stake than how a football match goes ahead. But the details of how the match goes ahead are important for two main reasons.
We believe the failure of the Government and public health authorities to properly consult with football supporters’ organisations threatens to have a negative impact on both of those outcomes. Throughout the crisis, supporters’ groups have shown a willingness and ability to put public health first. Our knowledge and willingness to play our part could have been used productively. Instead, once again, supporters have been utterly disregarded – something that is even more worrying and insulting when spectators are being subjected to a mass experiment.
With fewer than three weeks to go until the final, there are many questions unanswered. Here are 36 of the major ones. We remain willing to work with government and public health authorities for a practical resolution to the issues raised.
- How has the number of 8,000 tickets for the event been decided upon?
- How many of those tickets are going to each of the competing clubs? NB: the reported figure of 2,000 per club has not been confirmed
- How many tickets are going to residents of Brent?
- How many tickets are going to key workers and how is a key worker being defined?
- What measures are in place to ensure tickets are not touted for inflated prices?
- What are General Admission supporters within the clubs’ allocations being charged for tickets?
- Are local residents being charged for tickets? If so, how much?
- Are key workers being charged for tickets? If so, how much?
- How will tickets be distributed and will they be in electronic or paper format?
- What COVID-19 tests will those attending be required to take before the game?
- What measures are in place to ensure those presenting at the stadium with tickets have taken those tests?
- What tests will those attending be required to take after the game?
- How is the testing regime to be enforced?
- Will all COVID-19 tests be carried out in London?
- If all tests are being carried out in London, what help will non-London based spectators get in accessing them?
- Is there to be any charge for the tests required?
- What exactly is being tested as part of the Events Research Programme at this match?
- How will information on the scientific experiment be communicated?
- Will fans be fully informed of the nature of the scientific experiment they are taking part in and the potential risks, in line with the Helsinki Declaration on Ethics in Medical Research?
- Are there any geographical restrictions on who can attend?
- Are the Government and public health authorities aware that fans of both competing teams live in all parts of the country, and abroad?
- Are there any restrictions on transport to and from the game?
- What are the transport arrangements for the game in terms of additional TFL and Chiltern Rail rolling stock?
- Will the stadium car parks be open?
- What parts of Wembley Stadium will be open for GA spectators? Solely Level 1?
- What corporate areas of Level 2 will be open?
- Will there be any match day hospitality and if so, what numbers and where?
- Have the Government, local authority and football authorities donated any or all of the allocation they would normally get to key workers?
- Will there be some parts of the stadium in which no social distancing is required?
- Will there be some parts of the stadium in which mask wearing is not required?
- What time will the stadium open for hospitality and for GA spectators?
- Will there be a staggered arrival system?
- What measures are being taken to prevent a build-up of crowds at the entrance points?
- What facilities will be available inside the stadium?
- What approach is being taken to policing and stewarding the event?
- Will there be a staggered departure system?
In addition to the above, we are in discussions with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club around plans for allocating their pot of tickets. We are looking to clarify the total number of tickets given to Spurs and how many of those will be available for GA Season Ticket holders; the ticket application process; whether fans can apply in groups; the practical method of ticket distribution; any returns policy should a fan be unable to attend the event and/ or return a positive COVID-19 test; and the pricing structure for tickets.
A Cup Final is not an average sporting event that happens dozens of times a year. It’s the culmination of a competition, a tournament. That fact does not mean a Final is more important than effectively combatting a global virus. But it does have an impact on decisions about attendance and patterns of attendance, and about how ticket markets operate.
Fan organisations know how important it is to put public health first. Because we’re the public too. And that’s why we should have been consulted alongside all other stakeholders from the very beginning of the planning process. Instead, the public health authorities have not contacted us. The local authority, Brent Council, has continued its policy of refusing to talk to football fans. And we have learned that competition organisers the English Football League does not think fans are “relevant stakeholders”.
We could have helped save a lot of time and effort had we been properly consulted. We could have made a positive contribution to an event that had the confidence of the public, and which returned a better quality of research. The fact that we haven’t indicates either arrogance or carelessness. Neither inspires confidence.
We are now focussed on ensuring as many tickets as possible go to the fans of each club, and that those who are lucky enough to attend are fully aware of the risks they are taking and the experiment in which they are participating.
5 April 2021