Sta­dium limit of 30pc ca­pac­ity set for sup­port­ers to re­turn in Oc­to­ber

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - Ja­son Burt

The Gov­ern­ment has set a limit of 30 per cent ca­pac­ity when foot­ball sup­port­ers are al­lowed to re­turn to sta­di­ums. The ceil­ing is ex­pected to be chal­lenged by the Premier League, which wants each ground to be dealt with on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis and be­lieves it is too low for some who are able to ac­com­mo­date greater num­bers. The or­gan­i­sa­tion is plan­ning to put to­gether “be­spoke” cases for ev­ery club, tak­ing into ac­count sta­dium de­sign, trans­port links and lo­cal in­fec­tion rates.

It would mean that some clubs – with older, smaller grounds – may have to work on even fewer fans be­ing al­lowed in, while those with big­ger and more mod­ern venues will have a higher per­cent­age.

How­ever, if the Gov­ern­ment in­sists on a uni­form per­cent­age of no more than 30 per cent full, it will be a se­vere blow to a num­ber of clubs, who are in­creas­ingly des­per­ate for match-day rev­enue.

The Depart­ment for Dig­i­tal, Culture, Me­dia and Sport re­mains hope­ful that sup­port­ers will re­turn from Oct 1 – as an­nounced by the Prime Min­is­ter last month, de­spite the post­pone­ment of test events in other sports.

Foot­ball be­lieves it is bet­ter placed to han­dle fans com­ing back, with the Premier League still push­ing for the in­tro­duc­tion of clin­i­cal pass­ports to al­low more sup­port­ers to re­turn. It is un­der­stood the DCMS op­poses the idea be­cause of­fi­cials feel it will prove too com­pli­cated, but the League be­lieves the tech­nol­ogy is in place and that it should not be pe­nalised be­cause other sports can­not in­tro­duce it.

At present, the Gov­ern­ment is re­main­ing stead­fast on its 30 per cent limit, with the like­li­hood that it is non-ne­go­tiable un­til a coron­avirus vac­cine is found, which would al­low sta­di­ums to be full again.

As ex­pected, Uefa has con­firmed that no fans will be al­lowed to at­tend Na­tions League matches in Septem­ber, de­spite some of its mem­ber coun­tries al­low­ing crowds back to sport­ing events. Ice­land and Den­mark, who are Eng­land’s two op­po­nents in an away dou­ble­header on Sept 5 and 8, had hoped to per­mit some fans.

The Uefa Su­per Cup in Bu­dapest on Sept 24 be­tween the Cham­pi­ons League and Europa League win­ners will be se­lected as a test event by Uefa be­fore the re­turn of fans in

Oc­to­ber. The Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion said its “goal” is to get “some level of crowds” at Eng­land in­ter­na­tion­als at Wem­b­ley in Oc­to­ber, a friendly with Wales on Oct 8 and Na­tions League matches with Bel­gium on Oct 11 and Den­mark three days later.

Mark Bulling­ham, the FA’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said there had been “quite a lot of dis­cus­sion” about the po­ten­tial for crowds to re­turn, but Uefa felt there should be a “con­sis­tent ap­proach” for the first in­ter­na­tional win­dow since lock­down.

Speak­ing af­ter a meet­ing of all 55 Uefa na­tions, Bulling­ham said: “It’s a shame fans won’t be able to at­tend matches in per­son, but we have great broad­cast part­ners who will bring the games to them.”

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