Former England international and pundit Ugo Monye has addressed Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Twitter, illustrating to the politician the grave reality that rugby is facing with no fans.
His protest comes just days after the UK Government announced that it would be delaying the plan to reintroduce fans back into stadiums, something that was set to start in October. It is now likely to be pushed back into 2021.
While it is clear why this decision was taken, many have argued that allowing fans back into stadiums is still safer than other measures that have been implemented.
Monye shared a photo of Johnson at Twickenham this year after England had beaten Wales in the Guinness Six Nations – England’s last match before the competition was suspended due to Covid-19.
Alongside that, he shared an excerpt that explained the stark reality whereby players may have to be placed on unpaid leave.
Hi @BorisJohnson let’s talk ruggers. The 1st pic was our reality, you supporting the national team & our game. The second is the reality our sport is facing. Our sport like many others needs fans to survive ?? WE NEED FANS. There’ll be no prawn sarnies for you & no sport for us. pic.twitter.com/RUaq7ISsbD
— ugo monye (@ugomonye) September 24, 2020
In a statement this week, Bill Sweeney, the CEO of the Rugby Football Union, explained why they have sought emergency government funding, highlighting the losses that unions will face with no fans in stadiums.
The photos were accompanied by a message from Monye, which said: “Hi Boris Johnson, let’s talk ruggers. The first pic was our reality, you supporting the national team and our game. The second is the reality our sport is facing. Our sport like many others needs fans to survive. WE NEED FANS. There’ll be no prawn sarnies for you and no sport for us.”
England are facing a busy autumn, starting with a Twickenham match against the Barbarians, the conclusion of the Six Nations in Rome and then the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup.
The plan was initially to let fans into stadiums for these matches, albeit in limited numbers, but that has now been scrapped. Sweeney said that this will lead to a £122million reduction in revenue for the RFU.
Although the RFU have asked for financial help, Monye is now part of a growing syndicate that feel fans are the lifeblood of rugby and many other sports – and empty stadiums are going to have lasting negative effects.
"If we have to go another six to nine months like this, it will be absolutely devastating"
– England's nuclear warning ??
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 24, 2020
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