Opinion: Let's press Boris Johnson to make next Monday a positive day for sport

Six days from now, Boris Johnson will tell us what comes next for the country in terms of lockdown measures being eased.

When will the fans return to grounds?

This latest shutdown seems to have gone on forever and I don't mind repeating something I've said before – thank goodness we’ve had ‘elite’ football and some other top-level sport to follow, even if England's second Test in India was painful in places.

Many businesses and interest groups are pushing the PM to allow this, that or the other in the near future and I wish them all success ahead of next Monday's talk of roadmaps and the like.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

My own lobbying centres on sport and, in particular, football and the #LetFansIn campaign.

Whatever Johnson does or doesn’t say next week, he MUST state that grass-roots sports teams can start to train and play again very soon – and that includes those in youth sport, for whom the lockdown has gone on longer than is good for kids and longer, in my opinion, than is necessary.

And as well as letting all our local football, rugby, hockey teams, golfers, swimmers, tennis players and others get back to what they know, Johnson must - in my view - say that fans will be allowed back into stadiums, at elite and non-elite level, very soon.

In the case of non-league football, playing and having a crowd go hand in hand. One without the other doesn’t work. One hopes that Johnson knows this by now. In case he doesn't, we all need to make sure MPs and ministers lobby him - which means we must lobby them.

Pro clubs need the fans back just as much as the grass-roots ones.

I’m not necessarily saying the government has been wrong to shut down grounds during the time when the pandemic has been as its worst, but I don't think they’ve given enough weight to arguments for letting fans back into open-air arenas where I’d think the risk of Covid spreading is lower than in shops, for example.

The clubs need the fans back. The fans need to be back – in many cases for their own mental wellbeing.

Is it too much to ask that, for example, Pompey can have 5,000 in by mid-March and 10,000 by the end of the season? I don’t think so. The same rate of returning fans lower down the ladder and the pyramid would mean healthy - and healthy sized - crowds for our Bognors, Eastbourne Boroughs and Horshams (and the rest).

So, between now and next Monday, do your bit. Tweet, shout, write to your MP (which I’ll be doing again), or write to your local paper. Do something.

Sport at so many levels needs to be allowed to return as soon as possible. And #LetFansIn has a way to go as a campaign. Our voices HAVE to be heard.