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No crowds at stadiums any time soon, warns FA chief

FOOTBALL Association chairman Greg Clarke fears supporters will not be returning to stadiums ‘any time soon’.

The Premier League and English Football League both accept any resumption to their schedule in the immediate future must take place behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is understood top-flight clubs were also told on Friday the remaining matches of the 2019-20 season must be played at neutral venues. And in a letter to the FA Council, Clarke said: ‘The reality is we just don’t know how things are going to pan out.

‘But with social distancing in place for some time to come, we do face substantial changes to the whole football ecosystem. For example, it’s hard to foresee crowds of fans — who are the lifeblood of the game — returning to matches any time soon.’

Clarke added the ongoing uncertainty means the board has agreed a ‘sensible’ £75million cut to the FA budget. He warned: ‘In a worst-case scenario, this would be necessary for the next four years to offset a £300m deficit.’