Peterborough United owner Darragh MacAnthony has called on clubs in the English Football League to launch legal action against the government, after several saw their hopes of welcoming fans over the festive period dashed on Thursday.
Large swathes of south-east England, including Peterborough, were placed in the toughest tier 3 restrictions by government following the first full review of the coronavirus restrictions that were implemented at the start of the month.
The tightening of restrictions will see the southeast join large areas of the north under the strictest measures, and with pubs and restaurants forced to close apart from takeaway and delivery orders, sporting venues will also be forced to close their doors to fans.
It comes just two weeks after clubs were allowed to welcome spectators back for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March.
The news provoked a furious response from Posh owner MacAnthony, who called for a collective pushback on the government from football clubs across the Championship, League One and League Two over the failure to provide any financial help during the pandemic. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been keen for the Premier League to bail out the rest of the professional English pyramid, with a £3250m relief package agreed with the EFL for any clubs on the brink of financial collapse.
“Good old Government Overreach at its finest again,” MacAnthony said in a strongly-worded Twitter rant. “Another nail in (the) coffin for our industry. You can have fans back ... for a game... then pull the plug again ... more money down drain to prep for it all. Our business doesn't matter to these morons in charge. A*******!
“All clubs in the EFL need to put (a) legal fund together to look at suing government over bailing out other industries & leaving ours to wither away with no loans on offer or proper help whilst stopping us earning a living.
“And no £400k from (the) Premier League doesn’t scratch (the) surface.
“Well done to our staff for all hard work getting safety protocols in place for the two games we did have fans. The Government just made mockery of that work/money spent to give our fans a safe space to have much needed mental break from this pandemic as they drive everybody indoors.”
Following the announcement, Peterborough confirmed that they will have to reclose their doors to fans for the games over the festive period, meaning no supporter will be allowed to attend their games over the course of the next two weekends.
A club statement read: “As a consequence of the government announcement this morning Peterborough has been moved into Tier 3.
“This means that this weekend's match vs. Ipswich Town and the match vs. Charlton Athletic on the 29th December will have to take place behind closed doors.”
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