'Can we have our football back?': Norwich City's Delia Smith writes open letter to Boris Johnson

Delia Smith (left) and Boris Johnson (right). Credit: PA

Norwich City's joint majority shareholder Delia Smith has written an open letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to rethink the ban on fans attending matches in stadiums.

Speaking to ITV News Anglia earlier this week, Delia hinted she would write to Boris Johnson.

She has now done exactly that, adding her voice to the growing number of people in football calling for supporters to be allowed back in.

In the letter, which was written in an informal style, she said she understood how "inexplicably difficult" the pandemic is, but added that letting a "percentage of fans" watch games in the open air would be "perfectly safe."

She also warned that smaller clubs could "cease to exist" if supporters were made to stay away for a prolonged period of time.

1,000 Norwich fans were allowed to watch the game against Preston in September. Credit: PA

The government were originally hoping for fans to start returning to grounds from the start of October, but those plans were scrapped following a big rise in coronavirus cases.

Norwich were one of a handful of clubs who were given permission to host a pilot event with fans in September, with 1,000 supporters attending their clash against Preston North End at Carrow Road.

Delia's letter in full

Delia Smith watching her beloved Norwich City at Carrow Road. Credit: PA

Dear Boris,

I know what you are going through and how inexplicably difficult it all is. And here am I, one more letter to read and one more plea for help. Sorry. The good news is I am not asking for money, and the second bit of good news is, what I am asking for is something very positive and uplifting, in the midst of these dark and gloomy times.

Please, please can you make a decision to allow just a percentage of football supporters into the ground to watch games.

Grown up logic tells us what even the scientists must agree with: temperature checks, with supporters two metres apart, hand sanitising, masks, and so much empty space, distancing and open air has to be perfectly safe, and what’s more it’s a far better option than six round a table watching a match inside. Channel Four news filmed this all happening at Carrow Road on September 19th. And it honestly worked like a dream.

Looking ahead to the possibility and consequences of smaller clubs ceasing to exist, we need to remind ourselves that football is one of the last bastions of what it means to be community in contemporary life.

How many times do we hear the words ‘stronger together’? It gives the young a sense of belonging, no need to join a gang. It also manages to transcend colour, racism, class and age.

Clubs at the heart of communities are saving the government and the taxpayer some of the high costs of youth crime. Whilst the charitable Football Foundations working alongside the clubs make an enormous contribution to those in most need in the communities they serve. Again, saving the taxpayer. What we all need is good news, hope and what you could get is a whole stash of brownie points.

England invented the beautiful game, which has become much more than that. An unsung gem that makes an enormous contribution to our society at no cost. Please Prime Minister, before the final whistle is blown, can we have our football back?

Delia Smith

Director, Norwich City Football Club

PS: Let me know if ever you want tickets to a game.