Steven Swinford of the Times brings forth good tidings about attending sporting events in England. We can all go to ‘the game’ again. Hooray! Here are the new tiers in full:

  • Tier 1 – 4,000 spectators/ 50% capacity for outdoor events, whichever is lower, and 2,000/ 50% capacity for indoor
  • Tier 2 – 2,000 spectators/50% capacity outdoors, whichever is lower, and 1,000/ 50% indoors
  • Tier 3 – Ban on spectators remains
  • Tier 4 – Er…
  • Tier 5 – That’s it

Basically, provided you are in tiers 1 or 2 you can watch football in person. So, for example, if you are a Gashead (Bristol Rovers supporter) 4000 of us can go if we emerge from the current so-called lockdown from 3rd December. And if you are a Shithead (work it out yourself), 4000 of you can go to the Library of Dreams in BS3. This is good news indeed until you do the math and find that our fair city has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the entire country and barring an absolute miracle (spoiler alert: miracles like those in the bible didn’t really happen) we are going to be in tier 3.

A couple of thousand people might be able to watch a game if Bristol gets into tier 1, but it will not feel like your regular matchday experience. Mine will always involve meeting with friends for at least two hours and preferably three in the pub. The same after the game, too. Under tiers 1 and 2, it will be table service only for pre match drinks, always assuming you can get into the pub in the first place. And when you get there, it’s going to be all masks and social distancing and everyone having to sit, unless the football club staff can chalk out some areas on the Memorial Stadium terraces. I suspect it will take forever getting into and out of the ground and feel like it when you’re finally inside.

For many, I know, just being at the game will be enough. God knows, there are plenty of folk whose entire life revolves around their team – mine certainly did at one time – so it will be football heaven. For those who regard the actual match as part of the experience, there will be an emptiness about it. But, it must be said, it feels like progress.

Until the vaccine comes along, I suspect Bristol, like most other cities, will be in tier 2 at least. The current ‘lockdown’ is nothing like as severe as the first one. In fact, it feels almost normal apart from pubs, gyms and some shops being closed. Which means that some 2000 folk will pack the Memorial Stadium stands and rattle around in Ashton Gate’s.

So, let’s not get too excited. Santa Johnson is going to try to buy some short term popularity over the festive period before we all go back into a post Christmas lockdown. Empty stadiums are not all going to fill up anytime soon.

Oh, and we can go to gigs again. I can’t wait to get table service in venues that have no tables.