Spanish government cools on idea of allowing fans into stadiums

Rumours had suggested supporters could return to pro football and basketball grounds for final games of the season

The empty stands of the Camp Nou stadium, as Barça take on Granada in La Liga (image by REUTERS/Albert Gea)
The empty stands of the Camp Nou stadium, as Barça take on Granada in La Liga (image by REUTERS/Albert Gea) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 30, 2021 12:13 PM

After reports circulated that league authorities were ready to allow some fans to return to stadiums and arenas for some of the final games of the season, the Spanish government has since cooled on the idea

The final say on the matter would rest with the political authorities rather than the sporting bodies, and José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, the Spanish minister for culture and sport, poured cold water on the topic. 

“For the moment, and in the short-term, there will not be fans in football and basketball stadiums,” the Socialist politician said. “When there are guarantees of safety, then there will be supporters again.” 

“It doesn’t depend on sporting criteria, but health criteria,” the minister explained, adding that he will be happy to see it happen when it does, while emphasising that “we need guarantees” for this to happen.

Professional football and basketball leagues are the only competitions which cannot allow spectators into the arenas, currently. The Palau Blaugrana, where FC Barcelona play their home games of sports other than football, can welcome fans for handball, but not basketball. 

Šarūnas Jasikevičius, Barça’s basketball coach, rallied against the contradiction in a press conference following one of their EuroLeague quarter-final matches with Zenit St. Petersburg. “They are things of the politics of this country. Handball can play with fans, but basketball no? It’s absurd,” the Lithuanian coach said.

Months ago, the Spanish government body High Council for Sports outlined that they hoped to see the return of fans into stadiums and arenas before the end of the current campaign, which only has roughly one more month left to go. 

However, in recent days, various members of the Spanish government have gone against the idea for health reasons. 

FC Barcelona have been one of the clubs hardest hit by the absence of fans in stadiums as their matchday revenue is one of the highest in La Liga. The Catalan club reported financial losses of almost €100 million for the 2019/20 season, with next season’s figures expected to be even worse as the blaugrana haven’t played a single match this season in front of fans. 

For their part, La Liga and Liga Endesa are prepared for the return of supporters. The plans were to allow either 25% of stadium capacities, or a maximum of 5,000 spectators into the games. 

“We have everything prepared for the return of fans,” La Liga claim. “We’ve had everything ready since last October: the formulas of entry, leaving, and movement.”