1,000 of them to be exact and although those in attendance would have made as much noise as humanly possible, the larger interest was placed on the measures required to access a seat within the ground.

With each of the lucky few having to walk through a disinfection station, it certainly provided an interesting view into how football may have to operate within in the next few months and years, in order to welcome sell-out crowds once more.

However, there might be a simpler way to achieve the same end result, while with minimal cost by comparison and with hopes being pinned on a £6 antigen rapid test, this could be the key that finally unlocks those currently closed doors.

The ground-breaking test which has been created by UK biotech start-up, Proviris Solutions, provides results within 15 minutes and it works by detecting the presence of viral proteins (antigens) in the respiratory tract.

Should the target antigen be present, it will subsequently attach itself to specific antibodies on a paper strip and in doing so, will create a visually detectable signal that can be recognised within a quarter of an hour.

On the announcement of this test, Dr Bobby Ahmed of Proviris Solutions had this to say:

“Sports fans around the world are desperate to get back to watching their team, and club owners, stadia and arena need their presence. This will enable sports clubs, national bodies and communities to welcome fans back into their stadium to watch live sport, safely and virus free,”

While it is progress such as this, which could also aid the UK government in their own decision making and with reports that supporters could be allowed to watch their favourite clubs this side of Christmas, it has given the English game a reason to be hopeful.

Hope that depends on what government enforced tier a club is operating within and only if a stadium is found within a Tier 1 area, would they then be allowed to welcome paying customers before the end of 2020.

Of course, there is one obvious flaw in all of this and that’s the fact that no part of England is currently in Tier 1 – if anything, it’s as far as it can possibly be from it and with no guarantees that a second lockdown will be lifted at the start of next month, these hopes may be dashed.

At the same time, it does at least give everyone involved something of a common goal to work towards and if restrictions can be loosened to the level at which they were at before November’s cessation of major activity, there might just be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Bar a number of pilot events in September, we are now approaching our eighth month of armchair viewing and although Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed resolving this issue is now a “personal priority”, Science is still proving to be a rather difficult foe.

Not only that, but sport as a whole is not necessarily at the front of the queue and as much as lip-service on the matter is somewhat palatable, you almost get the feeling that technological advances such as the antigen test, are going to be required to score a 90th minute winner against COVID-19.

Written by Dan Tracey

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