The coronavirus crisis sweeping across the globe has severely impacted the sport of football.
While professional leagues are now beginning to restart competitive action, the concept of stadiums full of fans still appears to be months - if not close to a year - away.
However, with the likes of Poland, Russia and Hungary soon to allow fans to attend matches with very reduced attendances, there is cause for some optimism.
Spain, Italy and Germany are soon to look at enforcing similar rulings for supporters and English football could be heading in the same direction.
With the Premier League's 'Project Restart' close to completion, authorities have now switched their attention to getting fans back into stadiums while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
According to the Independent, The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is aiming for fans to start re-entering stadiums by as early as autumn and plans have already been drawn up.
The idea is to also offer financial security for those in the lower divisions, with clubs in League One currently less optimistic about the Premier League's 'Project Restart' than those in England's top division.
“Leagues like the Premier League coming back will make a difference, even to us,” a source at a League One club told the Independent. “But we can’t really get going until we have fans. It’s too large a part of our revenue. It makes it impossible.”
The issue is still, of course, a delicate one, especially with numerous players across English football debating the proposed restart date of competitive action.
Troy Deeney, Danny Rose and N'Golo Kante have all expressed their concerns in recent weeks and the UK's coronavirus death toll is the highest in Europe.
However, the Independent add that sources throughout English football echo claims made by Ronan Evain of Football Supporters Europe that supporters could be returning to stadiums “much sooner than had been originally predicted”.
Now is the time to be cautiously optimistic about the sport we love returning to some form of normality.
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