Ipswich MP Tom Hunt calls for return of football fans at Portman Road
PUBLISHED: 17:30 08 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:30 08 October 2020
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has called on the government to allow football fans to return to Portman Road.
The Conservative MP called on the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, to reconsider the government’s policy on barring fans from entering elite sports stadiums - those in the top six tiers of football.
His question comes following a visit to Ipswich Town FC’s Portman Road stadium last week, where he met with general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill.
Mr O’Neill, alongside others at the club, had helped arrange for the return of 1,000 supporters for a test event during a League One match against Rochdale on September 26 – which was cancelled at the last minute due to a change in government guidelines due to begin on October 1.
Mr Hunt said the current economic struggles the club is facing because of Covid-19, as well as because Ipswich has a relatively low rate of coronavirus compared to other areas of the country, mean the government should reconsider its national approach to measures and instead impose regional restrictions.
Speaking from his home, where he remains in self-isolation, Mr Hunt said: “It was important to ask a question in Parliament today about Ipswich Town and the return of fans to Portman Road.
“The club is an iconic feature of our town and is the reason why Ipswich is a name recognised around the world. But like many other football league clubs it’s struggling with the impact of Covid-19.
“The blanket decision to postpone the return of fans is therefore disappointing when we currently have relatively low rates of Covid-19 compared to the rest of the country and our local club is confident it can bring a small number of fans back safely.”
A phased return of fans to football stadiums, following earlier test events, was originally due to begin from October 1 before the government U-turn.
Non-league football clubs continue to be allowed to welcome fans into their stadiums, albeit in smaller numbers while practicing social distancing.
Those attending are required to provide contact details for track and trace purposes, while clubs have also been placing QR codes to use with the NHS coronavirus mobile app on their turnstiles.
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