Club Statement | 08/12/2020
Further to the joint open letter issued to First Minister Mark Drakeford yesterday (7th December 2020), Cardiff City Football Club would like to clarify its position on the points raised and the matter in hand.
Cardiff City Football Club has been speaking to the Welsh Government since early August (when infection rates were relatively low) in an attempt to reach agreement to run test events that would form the framework for the return of fans since to Cardiff City Stadium.
We felt that the August release of the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s (SGSA) supplementary guidance (SG.02) for the socially distanced return of fans provided a pathway and the return of supporters in relatively low numbers was possible. We, along with other clubs, also highlighted that the Welsh Government’s test event programme was wholly inadequate for stadia due to the fact that there were little, or no learnings, venues could take from an outdoor event at Theatre Clwyd or a triathlon at Pembrey Country Park (where 100 persons were present).
In September, the Club was made aware that the Welsh Government had asked the SGSA for a Welsh variant of the supplementary guidance that moved SG.02 from an optimal position of 1m plus mitigations to 2m. The variation (SG.02W) increased concern, as it presents a fundamental roadblock to the return of fans.
We highlighted in correspondence on 24th September that if SG.02W (the Welsh variant) was published, that Cardiff City Football Club would likely remain behind closed doors until SG.02 method 1 can be adopted or until money runs out and drastic action has to be taken. Many clubs shared the same concerns, and a meeting was held between stakeholders and the Welsh Government at Cardiff City Stadium on Monday 30th November. Again, there was no pathway offered by the Welsh Government and no acceptance that an engineered and managed solution could be provided to mitigate the risks.
Stadia are highly regulated and intensely managed environments. The options of core customer selection, a requirement to complete a health questionnaire and the need to agree to a supporter code of conduct are achievable in such environments. Awareness programmes for supporters, sanitisation and the wearing of face masks are additional mitigations.
Further to this, our proposal in reference to Cardiff City Stadium and its operations automatically maps and includes postcode management, real time health questionnaires and data collection of email addresses and contact details. Nobody would enter the stadium or occupy a seat without us having this valuable data to hand. We believe that this is better than any track and trace system in current operation.
The above is simply not possible in the retail, construction, transport or hospitality sectors that are being allowed to function without such restrictions as those imposed on the Welsh elite sports industry.
Cardiff City FC Executive Director & CEO, Ken Choo, said: “Whilst the health and safety of the public will always remain the top priority for all of us, we believe the above information warrants the Welsh Government to reconsider its approach to the socially distanced return of fans to our sports grounds. I therefore call on the Welsh Government to withdraw SG.02W and embrace the published SGSA guidance SG.02.
“We ask them to commit to transparency on the science and work on a collaborative approach between the sporting bodies, senior clubs, Public Health Wales and the Welsh Government in order to provide a clear roadmap for meaningful pilot test events and the safe return of fans to sports grounds.
"I would like to personally invite ministers to visit us at Cardiff City Stadium to further discuss the measures we have in place for the safe return of fans in line with the original SG.02 guidance."