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Bring back the fans: £680m cost to local economies and their vital charity projects

Banning fans from football grounds has already cost the London economy close to £1 billion in lost spending and threatens the future of scores of businesses, according to analysis by the Evening Standard.

Since the turnstiles were sealed in March the capital’s six Premier League clubs have played 34 fixtures behind closed doors resulting in a wipeout of matchday spending on tickets, programmes, merchandise, food, drink, travel and hotels, as well as wages of ground staff and stewards.

This will have cost local economies £680 million, using the top flight’s own estimates of an average £20 million of gross value added per game.

If the knock-on effect for smaller Football League clubs such as QPR, Brentford, Millwall and Charlton Athletic is included the total is likely to be approaching £1 billion.

The loss of matchday revenues has had a devastating impact on businesses close to grounds that rely on spending by the hordes of fans.

For nearly a decade, Piebury Corner was a staple for matchgoers to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in Islington.

Serving handmade pies named after players, Piebury grew from a match-day stall into two permanent sites in Holloway and King’s Cross.

But in August, the business became another victim of the pandemic. “We had terrible losses and we had to get out while we could,” Paul Campbell, Piebury’s owner, told the Standard.

Mr Campbell fears other local hospitality businesses will follow them under. “I don’t see how they can survive,” he said. “Many are running at losses and hoping for the best.”

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