As the Coronavirus continues to pause the sporting calendar, we asked the British public for their views on where sport stands in their priorities and what should happen next.
Most were clear that sport plays an important role in public life. Only 35% told us they believe that sports events are not important in the grand scheme of things right now. That closely mirrors the proportion of the population who have ‘little or no interest’ in sport (38%).
More than two-fifths (42%) say that major sporting events are good for the nation’s spirits, with around the same number (39%) acknowledging that sports events are important for the UK’s economy. Thirty-seven percent say that major sporting events are a welcome distraction, while more than a third (35%) agree that they are vital to the survival of clubs and leagues.
Organisers have cancelled almost all major sports events in the UK – something which the British public generally supports (52% believe it’s the right thing to do). There is, though, a sizeable minority (23%) who believe that each event is unique and that cancellations or postponements should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Only 14% believe that events and games should continue but behind closed doors.
The raft of postponements and cancellations raises the question of how or if competitions should be completed.
The most popular option was for seasons to be completed however far into the future that may be (39%). Only a around quarter (28%) believe that a long suspension in the season should lead to abandonment with no winners and fewer still (21%) believe a long pause should result in abandonment with winners and losers found in an alternative fair manner.
On the question, then, of how to decide winners and losers should abandonments occur, the most popular option was to decide that there should be no winners or losers this year (39%). Amongst the choices for finding a winner, the most popular option was to do it by using current points totals (29%), rather than a more sophisticated calculation based on unfulfilled fixtures (17%) or by chance, like a toss of a coin (2%).
On the question of the Premier League specifically, one in three Brits (36%) say Liverpool should be given the title, compared to 17% who do not. A high proportion of Brits (42%) felt they didn’t know enough to comment, however. If we exclude this group of non-football followers, the figures show that 68% of those with a view think Liverpool should be crowned champions, compared to only 24% who think they should not.
While none of us know how long this outbreak will last, it looks like there’s plenty of fans out there who still want to see the outcomes of seasons they’ve already bought into.
Photo © Whodonelson