Sports personality Peter FitzSimons believes the introduction of capped crowds at NRL matches “can’t happen” while coronavirus restrictions are still in place.
On Friday, it was announced NRL clubs would be allowed to have patrons in corporate boxes at matches in New South Wales stadiums from next weekend. The move would be pending the approval of a biosecurity plan, but each corporate room will be able to have one person per four square metres from next weekend, with up to 50 people allowed per box.
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ALRC chairman Peter V’landys also revealed the NRL are aiming to allow capped crowds to attend fixtures by July 1st.
As for how many fans can get in, V’landys said ANZ Stadium’s 80,000 capacity “might be able to get 20,000 with social distancing, whereas somewhere like Kogarah you might get 5000,” although they were just estimates.
But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the move was not part of any plan the government was currently looking at.
“We’re not in that space yet,” Berejiklian said in late May.
“It’s up to organisations to consider their options, but certainly we’re not in that space yet.”
After Saturday’s nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, The Sunday Telegraph reported the New South Wales Government is considering banning mass protests during the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking on Channel 9’s Sports Sunday, FitzSimons suggested it would be unlikely for the New South Wales Government to ban peaceful protests, but allow thousands to attend NRL matches.
“Yesterday we had 20,000 people on the streets for the Black Lives Matter protests,” FitzSimons said on Sunday.
“The Government, for the moment, has done the right thing and said, ‘We wish you wouldn’t congregate, we wish you wouldn’t do this, but when you do, please be socially distant.’
“This morning, I think there are two cabinet ministers who said, ‘We need to have a law against the right to protest.’
“The likelihood that they would on Tuesday say, ‘There’s a law from now to say you cannot congregate, oh yeah, by the way, July 1st, rugby league clubs, 20,000 people, no problem.’
“It can’t happen.”
FitzSimons recently butted heads with V’landys about the NRL’s plan, and criticised the organisation for their determination to push ahead amid a global health epidemic.
Although fans can attend NRL games from next weekend, Sydney Morning Herald reporter Andrew Webster believes the lack of atmosphere would not make it a worthwhile experience.
“I don’t know if I’d want to be in a corporate box at an empty stadium; it’s a lot of money to not have any atmosphere.
“I like the fake crowd noise at the moment.”