Early hopes for the return of football fans to grounds in Germany on a limited basis have been dashed by medical authorities in the country.
Last week, at a meeting of the 36 teams that comprise the top two tiers of professional football in the country, a raft of proposals was agreed with the German football league (DFL) which would have seen some spectators allowed back in stadiums.
They agreed selling tickets to pre-selected individuals, a ban on away fans until the end of the year, and no alcohol allowed in grounds until October. In addition, tickets would only be sold to seated areas of grounds; standing areas would remain closed.
However, the plans were subject to approval by the German government and the medical authorities in the country, and now the latter have been quick to pour cold water on the proposals.
A conference of German health ministers has made it clear that professional football is not on their priority list at the moment and has rejected suggestions that football fans could be tested for Covid-19 before going to games. They point out that there is limited testing capacity at the moment, and that there are other sectors of the economy which are far more important and deserving of their focus such as schools, hospitals, care homes and those working in key sectors.
Meanwhile, an influential doctors union, the Marburger Bund, has also added their voice to the debate by coming out against the plans. They argue that allowing fans back into stadiums, even in limited numbers, poses a significant risk of mass infections.
That is bad news for the clubs which are losing millions of euros every match day that they are forced to play games behind closed doors, especially in a country which has the highest average league attendance in Europe,
Germany had stabilised the Covid-19 situation within its borders, but recently there has been a rise in new cases in the country, and some experts have warned about the possibility of a second wave of the virus. There have been 9,000 reported deaths this year there attributed to it.