Soccer: Cinema screenings show contradictions of COVID curbs - charity chief

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool v Leeds United - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - September 12, 2020 General view inside the stadium before the match Pool via REUTERS/Paul Ellis/File Photo

(Reuters) - Football Foundation President Tom Pendry said allowing fans to watch West Ham United's game against Manchester City at a cinema near their home ground while spectators are locked out of the stadium highlights the inconsistency of COVID-19 restrictions.

Premier League matches have been played without fans since June due to the pandemic and plans for the return of limited crowds from this month were postponed amid a rise in the novel coronavirus cases.

The Times reported that Saturday's game will be screened for groups of more than 100 fans at several cinemas, including one just a couple of minutes away from West Ham's London Stadium where the game is taking place.

"This vividly illustrates the complete and utter nonsense of the situation," Pendry, who heads the Premier League, FA and government's football charity, told The Times.

"I intend to get a full debate on this in the House of Lords."

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said on Wednesday that inconsistencies in the approach to COVID-19 restrictions in Britain had left him frustrated.

"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?" Woodward said.

Diana Barran, a minister from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said in response to a question submitted by Pendry that the government would get fans back into stadiums when it is safe to do so, the report added.

"We'll continue to work closely with a whole range of sports, including football, to understand the latest thinking that might allow spectators to return," she said.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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