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Premier League stadiums under social distancing rules

Imagine if the Premier League restarted with fans involved, but still had to comply with social distancing guidelines…

social distancing stadiums

Hold on to your hats, folks. The Premier League is coming back. 

While the top-flights in France, Holland and Scotland have all been recently cancelled, those in Germany and now England are finally giving us a break from staring at the wall and wondering what to do with ourselves. 

Although it’s now clear the action will return behind closed doors, in the past few weeks we’ve all been speculating as to how the Premier League might return… and what it might mean for fans. 

There’s been talk of players wearing masks, zero contact in penalty areas and, even more bizarrely, playing much shorter matches. Everyone has their own opinions on “Project Restart”, but the lack of home advantage has been a major concern for most clubs involved - no matter how many cardboard cut-outs they might put in the stands. 

This got us thinking: what would happen if the Premier League restarted with proper crowds, but still enforced current social distancing measures? 


How Premier League Stadiums Would Look With Social Distancing

The short answer is - it would be absolutely ridiculous and, of course, would never happen. But the long answer is a lot more fun. 

Every spectator would need to stay 2 metres apart from everyone else at all times, and we’ve figured out there’d need to be approximately 25 empty seats around each person. Cue the inevitable jokes about the Etihad.

Actually getting in and out of the stadium would prove far more complicated, since you’d need to make sure the person sat at the end of the row arrived first and could safely get to their seat. In fact, trying to orchestrate the rush for a half-time pie is enough to make my brain hurt, and those in sudden need of the toilet would be in for a very rough 90 minutes indeed. 

But we aren’t really interested in the logistics (that’s somebody else’s unsolvable problem). Instead, we wanted to know how many socially-distanced fans you could potentially fit inside each Premier League stadium and, more importantly, how much fans would have to pay. SPOILER ALERT: it’s a lot. 

For clubs to maintain their usual match-day revenues, the average price of a Premier League match ticket would be approximately £1094, while a full season ticket would be an eye-watering £17,441.90. Here’s how each club stacks up… 

1. Arsenal

graphic showing what emirates stadium would look like under social distancing

You could cram just under 2500 people inside the Emirates, but you’d have to pay the big bucks to be one of them. I’m sure Mikel Arteta will eventually do very well, but paying over £33K for another season of Luiz and Mustafi would be the worst investment since signing an injured Kim Kallstrom on Deadline Day. 

2. Aston Villa

villa park ticket prices if social distancing was enforced

Villa Park usually has a cracking atmosphere, and their 1711 fans would probably do a pretty good job of keeping that up. By paying just under £13K for the season, you’d almost cover the cost of Jack Grealish’s hair product, too, which may just about convince him to stay this summer. 

3. Bournemouth

vitality stadium under social distancing

There’s not really much point in Bournemouth even trying to reopen the Vitality, since it’d be a huge amount of effort for just 453 people. Besides, I doubt anyone fancies paying over a grand to watch them get spanked by West Ham or Watford. Sorry, Eddie. 

4. Brighton & Hove Albion

graphic showing brighton match ticket prices if social distancing measures remained

I mean, the relegation scrap is definitely the most exciting thing about this season, so at least there’d be a bit of tension involved. A socially-distanced pitch invasion on the final day would probably be the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen. 

5. Burnley

graphic showing burnley ticket prices under social distancing measures

Would I pay £12,125 to watch Chris Wood hustle and bustle his way past defenders every week? Yes. Yes, I would. The fact you’d be able to hear Sean Dyche’s rasping voice from the touchline is also an added bonus. 

6. Chelsea

graphic showing it would be over £1500 to watch a chelsea match with social distancing in place

Paying £1500 to watch your team get pummeled by Bayern doesn’t really sound ideal, to be honest. But, to Roman Abramovich, that amount of money is somewhere near the equivalent of a Freddo Frog and a packet of Nik Naks, so maybe he’ll have you covered. 

7. Crystal Palace

graphic showing selhurst park prices under social distancing

Imagine paying £17,625 for a season where you’ve scored just 26 goals. That works out at around £678 a goal - and they very rarely score more than one at a time. Yikes. 

8. Everton

goodison park prices and max capacity under social distancing

You’ll usually be guaranteed some kind of entertainment when watching Everton, since you’re never entirely sure which side is gonna turn up. For over a grand a game, this is an incredibly risky roll of the dice, although at least there’d be a fair few goals - even if they’re all for the other team. 

9. Leicester City

king power stadium under social distancing

It would cost just over £12,800 to watch some Brendan Rodgers magic. The Foxes have been scintillating at times this season, and it would take just 78 season ticket-holders to potentially bring in another Jamie Vardy for £1 million… 

10. Liverpool

graphic showing anfield ticket prices if social distancing was in place

You could watch Liverpool’s crowning moment for just £850, which is actually pretty good value compared to all the other prices. You’d just need to make sure you buy tickets for the game that clinches things, since a socially-distanced victory parade would be all kinds of silly. 

Having said that, there’d only be 2136 seats up for grabs, and this is probably the only club who would actually sell any tickets for that price right now!

11. Manchester City

ticket prices at the etihad if social distancing was enforced

Empty seats and Manchester City, I point-blank refuse to stoop to any lazy jokes here. I won’t mention the word “Emptihad” at all, or even go close to suggesting they’d struggle to sell their 2204 seats at normal prices. Nope, I just won’t do it. 

Still, considering how much it’d be to watch Arsenal, £15,937 suddenly doesn’t seem such bad value for a side who keep winning everything. 

12. Manchester United

old trafford ticket prices and capacity under social distancing measures

Old Trafford is the biggest club ground in the Premier League, but you still couldn’t squeeze more than 3000 fans inside it. £18,525 is an awful lot of money for a pretty average United team, though this additional income might mean they can stop randomly suing video game companies out of the blue. 

13. Newcastle United

st james park under social distancing measures

Once their big-money takeover has finally been completed, maybe Newcastle’s new ticket prices won’t be too far off here. At least you’d be paying to watch Gareth Bale and Philippe Coutinho every week, instead of Andy Carroll and Joelinton. Shudder. 

14. Norwich City

carrow road ticket prices if stadiums enforced social distancing

I don’t think anyone fancies paying £15K to watch their team go down, although Norwich have definitely had their moments this season. Whichever way you look at it, that’s one expensive Pukki Party. 

15. Sheffield United

bramall lane under social distancing measures

Sheffield United fans have had one hell of a season, and I’m convinced that Chris Wilder is the nicest man to ever work in football. I wonder how many would pay over £11K to go through it all again?

16. Southampton

graphic showing southampton stadium capacity if social distancing enforced

When you support a team which lost 9-0 to Leicester, paying well over a grand for a match ticket is a ridiculous gamble. That’s an awful lot of money to just cry yourself to sleep at night, while opting for a £15K season ticket would just be plain lunacy.

17. Tottenham Hotspur

graphic showing insane ticket prices of spurs stadium under social distancing

There’s no doubt that Tottenham’s new stadium is absolutely stunning, but could you imagine paying over £1500 for that game against Bayern? These are the most expensive tickets in the league, but at least Eric Dier might enjoy climbing over all those empty seats. 

18. Watford

vicarage road prices and capacity under social distancing rules

Watford have been transformed under Nigel Pearson, but the list of fans willing (or capable) of paying 15 grand for a season ticket includes Elton John and… that’s about it. Vicarage Road is all yours, Elton. 

19. West Ham United

west ham ticket prices and stadium capacity under social distancing rules

I was hoping to figure out the cost of each bubble, but found the season ticket prices were eye-popping enough. £16,000 is an awful lot of money to sit way back behind a running track, even if you are watching a team managed by the mighty David Moyes. 

20. Wolves

ticket prices at molineux if fans remained socially distanced

Fans at Molineux have had plenty to celebrate again this season, although I’m not sure many would agree it’s been worth 14 grand. In fact, you’d also have to keep any such celebrating to a minimum, otherwise you’d risk encroaching into someone’s 2-metre zone. Maybe polite, Wimbledon-style applause would have to do.


PLEASE NOTE: all the figures here are approximate calculations. Every stadium has a different seating plan, so there’s bound to be some slight fluctuation between clubs. 

Ben Hyde

Rubbish FIFA player with an addiction to buying football shirts which are way too cool for me.