Round 14 of the Gallagher Premiership has gone ahead behind closed doors this weekend in England, but tournament CEO Darren Childs has claimed spectators could be allowed to attend matches before the delayed 2019/20 season reaches the play-off stages in October.
UK government restrictions on the numbers of people who can attend an outdoor gathering saw the Premiership get back underway in London on Friday night with no fans present at The Stoop as Harlequins hosted Sale.
The closed doors pattern continued across the weekend at Worcester, Exeter, Bath and Bristol on Saturday, with Northampton to follow on Sunday, and the general expectation has been that this would be the norm through to the completion of the season which had 57 matches to play – 54 regular-season games and three play-offs – when halted last March.
However, it has now emerged Premiership bosses are optimistic that stadium gates could soon reopen to accommodate fans who are making-do with live TV coverage to currently follow the teams.
Appearing on BT Sport as part of their restart night coverage at The Stoop, Premiership CEO Darren Childs said: “If you go back to March, there was a lot of negativity surrounding rugby and surrounding the Premiership,” he said.
“I wanted to share that because I know I’m not alone in this.”
This is why Black Lives Matter. pic.twitter.com/xdtD28k0TQ
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) August 14, 2020
“People were saying the clubs were going under and the league wasn’t going to finish. There was a lot of negativity and, to be honest, I just didn’t see it like that. Being in the trenches, I did not see it like that.
“I knew if I could pull everyone together and get focused on getting the sport restarted, there was a more optimistic story to tell. At the time back in March, we had a lot to learn about how the virus was transmitted and infection rates.
“We have got a unique sport designed for people to be in proximity, so when we looked at all those things it took us a bit longer than we had hoped. But we are back and we’re safe and, I’ve got to say, soon I hope we are going to get fans in – very soon.
“We’re waiting for some more guidelines to be issued this weekend around trials to bring fans back in. It could be really soon. We don’t have a specific date. It’s in government’s hands.”
This wasn't the sort of Gloucester return Jonny May was expecting https://t.co/GUwhaMupbW
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 15, 2020
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