General, Anfield, matchday pre-match. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Premier League could use ‘COVID-19 passports’ to get fans back into games

The Premier League are considering the use of ‘COVID-19 passport’ technology that could speed up the process of allowing supporters back into stadiums in the future.

It has already been revealed that the top flight are in talks with the government and medical experts over the safe return of fans to stadiums.

There is even hope that there could be crowds for the FA Cup final on August 1—albeit minimal—which would boost the chances of attendances beyond the currently established 300 for the likes of players, staff and media.

To do so, clubs and supporters themselves would need to be assured of their safety, with mass gatherings still prohibited in the UK due to the risk of infection.

According to the Times, one possibility is the employment of ‘COVID-19 passports’, with fans taking a short test for coronavirus in the buildup to games and being given a laminate to allow entry if they are proven negative.

Two clubs are said to have held meetings with Hong Kong company PTG Pharmaceuticals, who claim to be able to provide 1.8 million tests per day, using a pinprick of blood to identify antigens.

Known as Quantum Dot, this test takes 20 minutes to produce results, and the plan would be for testing stations to be open at stadiums 72 hours before a game.

This would provide those involved with as close to a guarantee as possible that those attending would not be infected, with temperature checks also required before entry on matchday.

General, Anfield, matchday image. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

However, while this sounds like an ideal scenario, and could accelerate the return of fans to Premier League games, the cost and time required to conduct tests are held up as issues.

“Implementation would cost about £30 per supporter per game. The bill would be footed by clubs, fans or sponsors—or a combination of the three,” Jonathan Northcroft writes.

“It is also estimated that getting every fan through the match-day tests and disinfectant turnstiles would take two hours, based on a 50,000-capacity stadium with multiple entry points and a modern layout.”

PTG Pharmaceuticals are hoping for government approval of Quantum Dot next week, as the UK moves forward with plans to relax lockdown measures.

Northcroft relays word from one Premier League chairman describing the proposal as “ambitious,” with the belief that there could be “cheaper and easier ways to get fans into games.”

But at this stage, all parties remain “open-minded,” with the desire across the board for fans to be able to attend games as soon as is safely possible.