It is now looking certain that football matches in England will be played behind closed doors for the rest of 2020, talkSPORT has been told.
MP Steve Brine, who is a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has told talkSPORT that the recent rise in coronavirus cases makes it highly unlikely we will see supporters attending matches again until next year.
Pilot test events have been carried out in recent weeks and 1,000 fans were granted access at eight EFL games over the weekend.
Plans were afoot to increase the number allowed into stadia from October, but that has now been put on hold with the government announcing new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Speaking to Jim White on Monday, Brine said: “It is very, very possible we will see fans inside stadiums this season. It is diminishingly small chances now that that will happen in 2020.
“As much as we love it, as much as we may enjoy going to live sport, it is not essential and it is the social contact that we are probably going to have to sacrifice this year.”
The decision to block plans to allow fans back into venues will have a huge effect on clubs, particularly in the lower leagues and non-league.
The National League is due to start on October 3 but that date now looks set to be pushed back, with clubs reliant on matchday income.
Jamie O’Hara insists non-league clubs will not survive without fans attending matches
Brine says while the government has no plans to support Premier League clubs, they will have to intervene to provide a support package for those lower down the pyramid to ensure they can survive.
“We are not going to be bailing out football clubs that pay stars £600,000-a-week,” he said.
“Of course there was a possibility of getting some fans back and in big football stadiums you can socially distance quite well with your best season ticket holders but it is not about that it, it is about getting to the ground and all the different services around. It is the social interaction which as much as we may love it, is not essential.
“I guess it was always inevitable there was going to be a pause on this given the virus stats going in the wrong direction but there is no question the government needs to think about helping lower league football clubs to save themselves and they are going to have to step in.”