Poll results: Majority of Sheffield and South Yorkshire football fans want football halted during Covid-19 crisis
A poll by The Star has found that the majority of football supporters want the professional game in England to be halted due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Our findings come amid mounting pressure on the game’s authorities to take action following a number of high-profile breaches by players set against the tragic backdrop of rising coronavirus-related cases and deaths in the country.
There has also been a number of Covid outbreaks at several clubs throughout the football pyramid – including at all of our local sides, with Sheffield Wednesday currently facing an anxious wait on the latest round of testing ahead of their scheduled Sky Bet Championship game at Coventry City on Saturday.
The Owls were without several key players as well as caretaker manager Neil Thompson and members of his coaching team for Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie at Exeter City following positive tests last week.
However, with some players flouting the law during the Christmas period – chiefly stars from Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Manchester City –and others ignoring official guidelines with their goal and dressing-room celebrations during the FA Cup third round weekend, there are reports in today’s national media that the Government and the FA are set to issue a stern warning to clubs amid growing calls for the game to be suspended.
More than 1,300 people responded to our survey on Twitter on the subject from Sunday, January 10 to midnight on Monday, January 11.
Of the 1,341 who voted in our poll, 40.8 per cent of people believed football from the Premier League to National League level should be suspended while the country, currently in a third national lockdown, continues its desperate fight against the virus. A further 18.6 per cent of readers felt a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ should be introduced.
However, 35.1 per cent of fans felt football should 'carry on as we are’ while 5.5 per cent of respondents said they weren’t sure what should happen next.
Ministers have always insisted they want elite sport and football to continue and it is understood that stance remains unchanged – but there is an acknowledgement that continued rule breaches are making it increasingly difficult to justify its continuation.
Former Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce, whose Newcastle United squad was hit by a Covid-19 outbreak shortly before Christmas, says he believes it is ‘morally wrong’ for football to continue, while ex-Blades boss Neil Warnock said he wants it to carry on despite rising cases.
Yesterday, United manager Chris Wilder admitted “no one within the game would be the least bit surprised” if the fixture schedule is paused but stressed he did not want that to happen.
"Everyone knows the situation and if it gets suspended I don't think it'd be a surprise,” he said, speaking to the media ahead of tonight’s game with Bruce’s side at Bramall Lane.
"But I've been consistent with it, I want to come into work and play games. That's been our stance and it's been left with the Government and the Premier League.”