Man Utd executive Woodward calls for fans to be let back in


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Southampton - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - July 13, 2020 Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward in the stands, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pool via REUTERS/Peter Powell

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has urged the British government to follow European nations and begin to allow fans back into stadiums, saying he is frustrated by inconsistencies in the approach to COVID-19 restrictions.

Fans have been barred from games in England's professional leagues since a lockdown in March and all games are currently played without supporters.

On Wednesday, United reported they had slumped to a net loss of 23.2 million pounds ($30.3 million) in the last financial year.

"While we recognise that public health must always be the priority, what is needed is consistency of approach," Woodward said on a call with investors.

"If people are allowed to sit in a plane for hours, or in the cinema, or even watch football in a cinema, why not outside, in a stadium environment which is professionally managed and controlled?

"If indoor concerts are allowed, why should outdoor, socially-distanced football fans be treated differently? Fans are the bedrock of this game and some of the inconsistencies out there are frustrating for them and for the clubs.

"Crowds have been permitted to return to varying degrees in over 20 European countries, albeit with significant capacity restrictions to allow for social distancing, and we urge the UK government to follow these positive examples as soon as it is safe to do so," Woodward added.

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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