Today’s postponement of Euro 2020 for a year means the end of plans for a fan zone in Greenwich Park – for now, at least.
Land in front of the Queen’s House was going to be closed off so 30,000 people could watch matches during the European Championships in June and July. The football tournament is usually held in one country, but had been due to take place in cities across Europe to mark its 60th anniversary.
London secured seven matches at Wembley Stadium, including the semi-finals and final, and part of its bid included the Greenwich Park fan zone.
Now those plans are off as the worldwide pandemic has forced Uefa to postpone the competition until summer 2021. BBC Sport reported this afternoon that the Norwegian FA has said the tournament will now run from 11 June to 11 July 2021.
Plans for the fan zone were approved by Greenwich councillors last month, despite worries over whether the transport network could cope and opposition from residents who live close to the park. Councillors acknowledged the event would cause disruption, but said it would be outweighed by the benefits to the wider borough.
The size of the event – the stadium built for the Olympics in 2012 held only 22,000 people – came in for criticism, but organisers said they had fought off pressure from Uefa to squeeze even more people into the park. A licensing committee also approved the plans earlier this month.
Whether the fan zone idea returns depends on what form the tournament will take when it does go ahead. However, organisers will need to go through the planning and licensing processes all over again, as their permission was strictly time-limited, containing a pledge that the park would be back to normal by 24 July.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the effective suspension of the football season – raising fresh doubt about the future of Charlton Athletic after a week of boardroom turmoil – with rugby matches also postponed yesterday.
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