Calls for Portsmouth to set up 'fan zones' for Euro 2020 final as council leader urges caution

ANY thought of watching Sunday’s Euro 2020 final as a city have been kicked to the kerb.

By David George and Tom Cotterill
Friday, 9th July 2021, 4:55 am

Support has been growing from football fans for something to take place in Portsmouth on Sunday, as England take on Italy in an historic tournament final.

It’s the first time England have reached a major final since the 1966 World Cup, and hopes were high that something could be done in the city – as happened when Pompey reached the 2008 and 2010 FA Cup Finals, winning the former.

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From left, Luke Shaw, Declan Rice, Mason Mount and Harry Maguire celebrate victory against Denmark in the Euro 2020 semi-final. Picture Frank Augstein - Pool/Getty Images

However, council leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said the risk of spreading Covid-19 is still too great for anything to take place.

He said: ‘The message from the government is very simple – we are not allowed to do anything that gets a crowd together.

‘Even if we wanted to do something, like get a big screen set up in Southsea, the bottom line is that we cannot do it.’

But punters in the city have appealed for the council to set up fan zones, either at Guildhall or on Southsea Common.

Pompey fans watch the 2010 FA Cup final on a big screen in the family section on Southsea Common Picture: Paul Jacobs (101534-13)

Security guard Dexter Baker, 26, of Copnor, said: ‘There are so many people who want to watch the game but might only be watching it by themselves.

‘Football is all about atmosphere. But not everyone can get into a pub. You don’t want to be celebrating the final on your own.

‘This is history in the making and we should be able to come together to cheer England on.’

Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt was firmly behind the idea of introducing a fan zone in the city.

‘If this can be done safely it is something I would support,’ the Portsmouth North MP said. ‘Part of the joy of watching a game is that shared experience.’

Culture minister Caroline Dinenage was also keen for communities to be able to watch Sunday’s historic final in a special way.

‘The England team’s gutsy performance has lifted our nation’s spirits when we needed it most,’ said the Gosport MP.

‘Although I understand the importance of keeping people safe, we also need to think of imaginative ways to enjoy these momentous times.’

Asked whether she would back a fan zone site being set up in Portsmouth, the Tory MP added: ‘That would be a decision for Portsmouth City Council but I think it would be really lovely if they could find a way for people to gather safely to enjoy the event.’

A spokeswoman from Portsmouth City Council said: ‘We’re not planning to show the match on a big screen in Portsmouth in accordance with advice from Hampshire Constabulary.

‘We know many football fans will want to get together to cheer on England, but with coronavirus cases rising the safest way to do this is to watch the game outside with up to 30 people, or at home with up to six people.

‘You can also support local pubs and venues that are showing the match - just make sure to check in using the NHS Covid-19 app and remember hands, face, space.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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