Football UK

Fans set for October return to stadiums despite coronavirus case surge


Fans remain set to return to sporting venues next month despite a recent surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

That’s according to a letter penned by MP Nigel Huddleston, who works in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

In the letter, Huddleston tells former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch that fans will return to Premier League stadiums and other elite sporting venues in limited numbers from 1 October onwards.

But he warned the plans are reliant on “wider public health conditions” and the success of ongoing pilot events.

Huddleston’s letter comes after fans were barred from the proposed pilot event and League Two clash between Cambridge and Carlisle last weekend following an increase in the ‘R number’.

Fans remain set for a return to stadiums in limited numbers next month

But the MP insists further pilot events will take place ahead of the heavily-regulated return of fans next month.

“The government wants to see spectators back at sports events as soon and as safely as possible,” Huddleston wrote.

“We have made important progress in staging a series of pilot and test events across different sports with more to follow.

“The pilot programme will continue throughout September, restricted to a maximum capacity of 1,000 people.

“The success of these events will be reviewed ahead of the current date of October 1 for reopening for socially distanced spectators under covid-secure conditions more widely if public health conditions permit.

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Fans were socially distanced during a pilot event at Brighton’s Amex Stadium

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“The events have been selected to test a range of different event styles across the country’s major men’s and women’s sports.

“A number of successful pilots have already been completed, including snooker at the Crucible, cricket at Edgbaston and football at Brighton and Hove Albion.

“I know how important this is for sports clubs for whom paying spectators are vital. That is why we amended guidance to provide extra clarification for organisers of non-elite sport events to help them manage and admit spectators safely, adhering to social distancing.

“As stated in my previous response, it is up to the respective governing bodies to determine what constitutes the boundary between elite and non-elite within their sports.

“In football’s case, the FA’s definition means that only leagues below National League north and south can continue with spectators.

“However, subject to the successful staging of the pilot programme and the wider public health conditions, we hope to reopen elite sports fixtures including the National League for socially distanced spectators under covid-secure conditions from October 1.

“We continue to work closely with a whole range of sports to understand the latest thinking that may allow increased numbers of spectators to return.

“This includes the creation of a new Sports Technology Innovation Working Group of sporting bodies and health experts to analyse new technologies which might support this.”

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