FOOTBALL fans face random ballots for match tickets next season due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The Premier League’s chief medical officer Mark Gillett has predicted there are unlikely to be any capacity crowds allowed for all of the 2020-21 campaign.
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Gillett says ‘the public health situation is not going to change in the next six to 12 months’ — suggesting that matches will be played behind closed doors until at least November.
But clubs have been briefed that fans may be welcomed back in vastly-reduced numbers during the second half of the 2020-21 campaign.
Random balloting of 2019-20 season-ticket holders or those with membership is seen as the fairest means by some.
Gillett’s verdict was a bombshell to clubs, many of whom were budgeting for behind-closed-doors games until Christmas but with a return to normality after that.
While broadcasting and commercial income dominates the revenues of most Premier League outfits, many — including Manchester United, Spurs and Arsenal — still take around 25 per cent of their earnings from gate money and other matchday sales.
So an entire season without any fans would leave those clubs facing a massive hit of around £100million.
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Those with smaller stadiums would be less affected by continued lockouts.
Clubs are unable to sell season tickets for the 2020-21 campaign, knowing there is little chance of supporters being able to attend matches before Christmas.
Reduced capacities is one possible outcome but there is also the possibility that no supporters will be allowed into any stadia until a coronavirus vaccine is in widespread use.