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