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Bristol coach Pat Lam: No fans for six months will have "huge impact" on rugby

Bristol coach Pat Lam: No fans for six months will have
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The Bears' Gallagher Premiership match against Leicester at Ashton Gate must now be played behind closed doors.

Bristol boss Pat Lam admits that fans being prevented from attending games for up to six months will have a "huge impact" on Gallagher Premiership clubs.

Concern over a second wave of coronavirus infections has resulted in plans for supporters to attend sports venues in England from October 1 to be placed on hold as part of additional new restrictions announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Johnson added that the new measures would remain in place for "perhaps six months".

Lam, who is hoping to guide Bristol to a Premiership and European Challenge Cup double this season, insists the development is a major blow.

"Without a doubt, it will have a huge impact on the whole industry if fans aren't coming in. It will certainly be tough for us, but it's the same for everybody," the Bears boss said.

"We're a business and having fans attend games is a core part of our business. Not having them there is a huge loss for clubs and has a big impact on the financial side of it."

Bristol must now play Wednesday's Premiership clash with Leicester at Ashton Gate behind closed doors having previously been given permission to host 1,000 fans as a test event.

It is fate shard by Bath's west country derby against Gloucester tonight (Tuesday) – another pilot event that has had to be shelved.

"We understand the situation the world is in and we have to adapt in the best way we can," Lam said.

"Bristol Bears and every other club have been impacted. Everyone is in the same boat, so then it's a case of asking 'how will we work our way through this?'

Empty grounds have major financial implications for Premiership clubs
Empty grounds have major financial implications for Premiership clubs, John Walton/PA

"It's a big disappointment for our fans but the reality is that we're all in this situation. We'd love to have our fans there.

"We've worked hard to earn home quarters and semis in the Challenge Cup and that was for our fans, as well as the team."

Lam declined to reveal if the ongoing absence of spectators means players would be forced to take additional pay cuts.

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A woman wearing a mask walks by the Emirates Stadium after manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus and their Premier League match against Brighton on Saturday has been cancelled on March 13, 2020
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