Sports clubs and associations in England are bracing themselves for six more months without paying spectators after plans for a fans’ return in October were scrapped on Tuesday (22 Sep).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons the government could not go ahead with the planned reopening of venues on a socially distanced basis from October 1 due to a sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

He suggested the measures would remain in place for “perhaps six months”, making it almost certain the sports sector will need some financial support from the government to prevent an unprecedented loss of professional and grassroots clubs from the landscape.

It is a devastating blow to sporting organisations, many of whom rely heavily on match-day revenue for survival, and there have already been calls from governing bodies for emergency funding.

Professional sport, including the Premier League and Test cricket, has largely been played behind closed doors since it returned following the coronavirus shutdown earlier this year.

The English Football League has estimated its clubs will lose a collective £200 million ($255 million) without fans in stadiums for the whole of the 2020/21 season.

The Premier League warned of the “devastating impact” the continued absence of supporters was having on its clubs and communities.

“Last season, Premier League clubs suffered £700 million in losses and at present, our national game is losing more than £100 million per month,” it said in a statement.

“This is starting to have a devastating impact on clubs and their communities.”