Fans may not to be able to return to watch live sporting events in England until the end of March at the earliest.
At a meeting on Tuesday, sports governing bodies – including those from football, rugby, cricket, Formula 1 and horse racing – were told to prepare for no spectators throughout the winter.
Officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told the meeting, which was attended by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, that the ban on fans will be kept under review.
Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs said: “The announcement that supporters will not be allowed into stadiums for up to six months cuts off crucial revenue for clubs who have already suffered significant financial losses from suspending the season and playing matches behind closed doors since March.
“We believe the lack of supporters in our grounds could cause irreparable damage to our clubs and the communities they serve, so we must find a way forward to avoid this.”
Ralph Rimmer, the chief executive of the Rugby Football League, added: “Today’s call specifically focused on the postponement of the pilot event programme and the plans for socially distanced crowds and the further serious impact this will now have on sports.
“The secretary of state indicated that the postponement may last throughout the winter. The impact on Rugby League and other sports is profound.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a range of new restrictions for the country, including confirmation that plans to allow fans to return to sport from 1 October would not go ahead.
The plans had been placed under review earlier this month after a rise in coronavirus cases.
The UK’s Covid-19 alert level has moved to 4, meaning transmission is “high or rising exponentially”.
The prime minister also said restrictions are likely to remain in place for the next six months.
“We have to acknowledge the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen large sporting events,” said the prime minister.
In an address to the Commons on Tuesday, Johnson announced new restrictions for the country and those included the halting of the phased return of fans. (Courtesy BBC)