WALES' major sporting bodies - including Wrexham AFC and Bangor on Dee Races - have written to the Welsh Government urging it to allow fans back into stadiums and prevent the “real risk of bankruptcy for our sports”.

The letter to Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford asks him to reconsider the stance during the Covid-19 pandemic that supporters will not be allowed to return to sport soon.

Some sports fans in England have been allowed to return to stadiums during the last week, with Tier 1 capacities set at a maximum of 4,000 and Tier 2 areas half of that.

But fans in Wales, like Tier 3 areas in England, are prohibited from attending sporting events, and representatives from cricket, football, horse racing and rugby union have united to call for change from the Welsh Government.

On Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said Wales would be classed as Tier 3 under the UK Government's system.

He defended measures put in place by the Welsh Government in the face of criticism they are stricter than those over the border, adding: “I take the decisions that I do because I know that they are the right decisions and that they will save lives here in Wales.

“Even when the decisions are difficult, so long as I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I am doing what I believe – with all the evidence that we draw on and the advice that we get – that I am doing and this government is doing the right thing.

“That is what has to matter to me, not whether it is in a temporary way unpopular or that other people might take a different view.”

The Leader:

Crowds at the Racecourse before the coronavirus pandemic

The 15 organisations who have signed the letter, written by Cardiff City chief executive Steve Borley, include the Football Association of Wales and Welsh Rugby Union.

Locally, Mark Williams, Executive Director of Wrexham AFC, and Jeannie Chantler, General Manager at Bangor on Dee Races, have also signed.

The Leader:

Spectators at Bangor on Dee prior to the pandemic

The letter published on Cardiff’s website said: “Sport is a fundamental part of life in Wales. It puts our nation on the global stage and provides communities across Wales with a sense of belonging and identity.

“We form part of an an industry that employs thousands of people across the country, our contribution to the Welsh economy, employment and well-being is significant, but this is now at risk.

“We urge Welsh Government to reconsider its approach to the socially-distanced return of fans to our sports grounds by embracing the current Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) guidance known as ‘SGO2’ and withdraw the variant ‘SG02W’ which has been requested by Welsh Government.”

The letter says an in-person and virtual meeting was held at Cardiff City Stadium on November 30 to consider the socially-distanced return of fans to stadium.

It was attended by Welsh Government and representatives from WRU, FAW, the Welsh rugby regions, Glamorgan cricket, horse racing and Welsh professional football clubs.

“Taking a more cautious approach, the Welsh Government asked the SGSA to prepare a version of SG02 based on a social distance of two metres,” the letter adds.

“A draft (SG02W) has been received and circulated, but not published. We as a group of national governing bodies and senior clubs urge that this draft be withdrawn and that the Welsh Government also embrace the highly-regarded SG02 version and subsequently allow test events to be run using this guidance, with events taking place as soon as possible.

“We say this because while SG02 reduces expected attendances to between 25% and 35% of capacity depending on concourse densities and stadium layouts.

“The Welsh version would further reduce capacity to under 10%, a level which in effect closes our businesses to the public indefinitely.

“At the meeting, all sporting organisations were extremely disappointed by the lack of prior consultation and the entrenched position adopted by Welsh Government officials during the meeting left us full of concern.

“The situation is grave; the lack of a clear roadmap for the return of spectators in Wales poses the real risk of bankruptcy for our sports.”

In Tier 1 and 2 areas in England fans have been allowed to return, in smaller numbers and socially-distanced.

The Leader:

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp salutes the returning fans after the final whistle during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Image PA Wire/Jon Super

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp described the return of fans to Anfield as an emotional “goosebump” moment as his players responded with the perfect performance against Wolves.

The 2,000 supporters inside the ground that really made it for Klopp, who celebrated the victory with his trademark triple fist-pump in front of the Kop.

“Getting out of the dressing room and warming up was a proper goosebump moment,” he said.

“When the people saw the first player they got quite noisy and the rest of us thought ‘Oh my God, that sounds really loud’.

The letter is signed by Steve Borley, Executive Director of Cardiff City Football Club, for and on behalf of:

  • Steve Phillips – CEO, WRU
  • Jonathan Ford – CEO, FAW
  • Hugh Morris – CEO, Glamorgan Cricket Club
  • Julian Winter – CEO, Swansea City FC
  • Gavin Foxhall – Director of Operations, Newport County
  • Mark Jones – Managing Director, Dragons Rugby
  • Richard Holland – CEO, Cardiff Blues
  • Philip Morgan – COO, Scarlets
  • Andrew Millward – Managing Director, Ospreys Rugby
  • Phil Bell – Executive Director, Chepstow and Ffos Las Racecourse
  • Jeannie Chantler – General Manager, Bangor on Dee Races
  • Mark Williams – Executive Director, Wrexham AFC
  • Todd Kelman – Managing Director, Cardiff Devils