Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has warned it is "critical" to get fans back into stadiums soon, but a spike in coronavirus cases has forced the British government to review plans to reopen venues from October 1. The Premier League was forced to finish last season with the final 92 matches played behind closed doors after the coronavirus lockdown. When the 2020-21 campaign kicks off on Saturday, stadiums around England will remain empty in the stands due to the continued threat of the pandemic.

Brighton hosted 2,500 fans for their recent pre-season friendly against Chelsea, while Arsenal's Premier League home match against Sheffield United on October 3 was earmarked for a potential reduced-capacity test event.

Fearing potential losses of 700 million pounds ($910 million), Masters said it is essential for the financial health of English football that supporters are able to return soon.

"We have to get back to fans inside stadia as quickly as possible - that's the big thing that's missing, economic or otherwise - we need fans back inside stadiums for all sorts of reasons and it's the number one priority," Masters told the BBC.

"I think perhaps there is a perception the Premier League economy can withstand just about anything, but if you do lose £700m out of a planned budget it's going to affect things and clubs have had to make some very difficult decisions."

However, an increase in the number of virus cases has forced the government to ban gatherings of more than six people from Monday.