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15th Sep 2020

Premier League fans to return to stadiums in October despite Covid-19 spike

Reuben Pinder

Plans are still in place despite a recent surge in cases.

Premier League fans are set to return to stadiums in October despite a recent surge in cases of Covid-19 across England.

These plans are still reliant on “wider public health conditions” and pilot events going ahead with no hiccups. But MP Nigel Huddleston, who works in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, has confirmed in a letter to former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch in a letter that it is still the plan to bring football fans back into stadiums in October.

Obviously, fans will return in limited capacity and will be made to follow strict guidelines around social distancing and hygiene.

Huddleston’s letter comes after fans were not allowed into the stadium for the League Two clash between Cambridge and Carlisle last weekend, a proposed pilot event, following an increase in the ‘R number’.

“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.

“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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