Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has called on the government to allow fans back into football.
Woodward issued an impassioned plea when speaking to investors on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
Woodward insists United and the rest of the Premier League have put in place the necessary protocols to ensure a safe return for fans - even in light of growing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
Woodward said: “While the situation in Greater Manchester and the UK as a whole continues to evolve, our plans for this are well advanced and we are confident of ours and the whole league’s ability to welcome them back in a safe, bio-secure environment.
“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.
“While we recognise that public health must always be the priority, what is needed is consistency of approach. 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.”
United revealed the extent of impact of Covid-19 in their latest financial results. They estimate the pandemic has cost them £70million in revenues.
Woodward added: “We are looking back today on what has been one of the most extraordinary and challenging seasons in recent history; and I am proud of the way the club continues to respond. There are still big challenges and uncertainties ahead as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt our way of life across the globe.
“This disruption is clear to see in the financial results that we are announcing today and we expect the impact to remain visible for quite some time to come. However, the past year has also demonstrated the underlying strength and resilience of the club; the special role that sport plays in our societies; and the meaningful impact the Club can make in our communities through this period of adversity.
“Despite severe near-term pressures, created by the pandemic, we remain optimistic about the medium to long-term. Demand for live football around the world is strong; and our sustainable commercial model means we are very well placed to harness that growth, while continuing to pursue what will always be our number one priority: delivering success, entertainment and trophies on the pitch.”