The return of sports fans to stadia across the UK is within touching distance as venues will be allowed to welcome back 25% capacity (up to 10,000) from May 17. However, a report has been released reveals that while fans are excited to return, the majority are wanting greater health and safety measures in place.
The report from Honeywell, a company that offers solutions to operate buildings, conducted the census among 2,000 sports fans in the UK, between March 3 and March 9, 2021, about attitudes on returning to stadium-based sporting events in the United Kingdom. The findings revealed that concerns around COVID-19 remain, with 88% of respondents wanting an increased focus on safety measures, such as air quality management and social distancing, when they return to stadia. Importantly, 79% of those surveyed said they wanted clubs and stadium operators to notify them in advance of attendance that these types of measures are in place.
Despite concerns, there is widespread excitement at the prospect of returning to live events, with 54% of surveyed fans hoping to secure tickets to at least three games even while stadium crowd limits are in place.
Of the 2,000 UK sports fans surveyed it found 79% are worried about returning to stadiums due to the potential risk of contracting the virus (surprisingly, amongst 16-24-year-old respondents that figure rises to 83%). Notably, almost half (46%) are reluctant to take family members to watch live sport again, with 44% of those surveyed saying they will hold off doing so until they understand what safety measures have been implemented
“Sports fans are passionate about watching live games, but our study shows that many fans remain worried about the potential risks COVID-19 poses at events and for them, safety is paramount,” said Patrick Hogan, chief commercial officer, Honeywell Building Technologies. “Fans have clearly signaled that they are looking for reassurances from clubs and stadium operators that they have the processes, protocols and technologies in place to help minimize risk so they can get back to enjoying live sport as safely as possible.”
Many of the safety measures that have become commonplace in most aspects of daily life continue to be expected by many sports fans while inside stadia. 66% of surveyed fans expect that restrictions on fan movement will be necessary to help protect spectators and staff. Approximately half (46%) of those surveyed want to see the monitoring of social distancing compliance, while 38% support the introduction of temperature monitoring for fans entering the ground and 27% want to see the use of air purification systems within the concourse to reduce the risk of contagion.
“Fans are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to get back to stadia to watch live sport but our study shows that they are prepared for a game day experience that is not the same as it was before,” said Hogan. “With 90% of fans telling us that they believe their support from the stands can have an impact on the game, it’s important everyone involved does what they can to get fans back quickly, but also as safely as possible. We’re actively engaging with clubs and stadium operators around the country to help them get systems and policies in place to help support their efforts to get fans safely back to grounds.”