Huddersfield Town chairman's fury at 'dictatorship' approach of Government

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN chairman Phil Hodgkinson has lambasted the Government for a perceived undemocratic approach in unilaterally deciding to stop pilot test events to trial the return of fans to games and deeming grounds to be unsafe venues.

Huddersfield Town chairman Phil Hodgkinson.

The Government recently dealt a devastating blow to football clubs across the country - and sport as a whole - by pausing its plans for the partial return of fans to stadiums on October 1 because of the rapid spike in Covid-19 cases.

It has heightened fears that clubs could go out of business due to lack of gate receipts if supporters are forced to stay away from grounds for a further extended period.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The decision was made despite clubs across the land investing a great deal of time, planning and finance into trying to ensure that socially-distanced supporters can be housed as safely as possible in outdoor arenas - at a time when people are still allowed to attend indoor hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants.

Hodkinson is particularly angered by the fact that no compelling and specific reasons have been given as to why the decision had been made to stop pilot games.

Speaking on talkSPORT, Hodkingson - who warned in the summer that 'fifty or sixty clubs' could go under if a package to support clubs during the Covid-19 crisis was not agreed upon - said: "It is a situation which is unprecedented.

"What has happened is the Government have basically come out and said: 'No, we are pulling back. No test events at sporting venues, no supporters in grounds.' It has all been stopped.

"I have not seen anywhere where they have given a compelling reason as to why.

"I think that before we start talking about who bails who out and what needs to be done, the Government need to come out and give us a compelling reason as to why they have stopped these test events and as to why they feel that outdoor - and particularly sporting venues - are unsafe.

"If the Government aren't prepared to come out and give specific reasons as to why they have made this decision, then we have gone from a democracy to a dictatorship."

On the suggestion that the Government have purely made the decision due to a spike in Covid-19 cases, Hodgkinson added: "They would do (say that), but give us some compelling evidence that what football clubs are doing cannot deal with that.

"There is a really simple starting point for me for this, every sporting venue and any venue that holds any people for any event have to be given a safety certificate.

"That safety certificate is given to that venue when it is signed off and they are allowed to have 'x' number of people within that venue.

"Why aren't the Government and Public Health England speaking to football clubs and saying: 'What can you do to mitigate this and make it better? Show us what you can do.'

"Because at the end of the day, this is every football club's future and livelihood. So, they have got to be included and show that they can manage this in a measured manner to reduce the potential impact and I believe that they can."