Government minister makes coronavirus call amid fears Manchester United and Liverpool games could go 'behind-closed-doors'
Talk of the coronavirus outbreak seeing Sheffield United’s remaining Premier League and FA Cup games being played behind-closed-doors is ‘very premature’, according to government minister Oliver Dowden.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5Live, the culture secretary claimed that, at this stage, there is no evidence to suggest crowds should be shut out from major sporting events in the UK.
“At this stage we’re not in the territory of cancelling or postponing events,” said Dowden.
“I was at Twickenham with the Prime Minister. There was a huge crowd of people there. There is no reason why people should not be going to those events.
“It is very premature to be talking about things like that.
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“That is why I asked the chief medical officer to brief the sporting bodies last week and that is why we will be driven by the advice of the chief medical officer as we continue.
“I do want to emphasise in relation to sporting events, any talk of cancellation is very premature indeed. At the moment there is no evidence to suggest we should be doing that and we don’t have any plans to.”
The Premier League and broadcasters have been summoned to a government meeting today to discuss contingency plans in case the coronavirus spreads over the coming days and weeks.
In Italy, Serie A matches – all other sporting events – are being staged without fans until April 3 as the country grapples with an epidemic.