Mass Outdoor Events and the Spread of an Airborne Virus: English Football and COVID-19

Posted: 2 Sep 2020 Last revised: 27 Aug 2021

See all articles by Matthew Olczak

Matthew Olczak

Aston University - Aston Business School

James Reade

University of Reading

Matthew Yeo

University of Reading - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 26, 2021

Abstract

Mass attendance events are a mainstay of economic and social activity. Whilst the benefits from such interactions are large, they may also facilitate the spread of diseases from person to person. We provide evidence on how mass outdoor gatherings contributed to the spread of COVID-19. We do this by considering how attendance at English football matches in February and March 2020 contributed to Covid-19 cases and deaths in local areas in March and April 2020. The results suggest that an additional match taking place in an area in March increased April Covid deaths in that area by 2 or 3 per 100,000 people. There is also some evidence matches were contributing to the spread of the virus before March. Furthermore, we show that attendance at matches can have this impact even when the stadia in which the matches take place are far from full. Our results also suggest that matches not only impacted on the spread of the virus in the area in which the match took place, but also the area from which the away team’s supporters travelled from. Overall, our analysis suggests that there should be caution in allowing fans to attend matches despite the economic impact playing football behind closed doors has on clubs.

Note: Funding: None to declare

Declaration of Interest: None to declare

Keywords: social distancing, mass outdoor gatherings, COVID-19

JEL Classification: I18, H12, I10

Suggested Citation

Olczak, Matthew and Reade, James and Yeo, Matthew, Mass Outdoor Events and the Spread of an Airborne Virus: English Football and COVID-19 (August 26, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3682781 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3682781

Matthew Olczak

Aston University - Aston Business School ( email )

Aston Triangle
Birmingham, B47ET
United Kingdom

James Reade (Contact Author)

University of Reading

Matthew Yeo

University of Reading - Department of Economics ( email )

Reading, RG6 6AA
United Kingdom

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