Featured News

Premier League plans for the return of fans

Premier League clubs are looking into the possibility of allowing fans back into stadiums at the beginning of the 2020-21 season at between 30 and 50 per cent capacity.

The 20 clubs met yesterday (Thursday) to discuss the issues and, while no decision has been finalised, the group is aiming for a September 12 date to allow supporters back.

The return of fans would be rolled out for every Premier League and English Football League (EFL) club, and for other sports that attract crowds such as rugby union, rugby league and cricket.

Venues and clubs will need to assess ticketing protocols for such games, as access to all season ticket holders could surpass the capacity limits. Some clubs will look to use a ballot system, while others are considering a rota basis.

In addition, people from the same household will be able to sit together, but clubs will need to ensure the seats are occupied by the ticket-holder.

If fans are allowed to attend games, they will be required to wear face masks and the grounds would need to open three hours ahead of kick-off to allow for staggered entry.

The goal to have 50 per cent of seats occupied is seen at the top end of the scale but the government and the sports authorities are aware of the financial implications of breaking even or making a loss.

Decision makers are reportedly being cautious due to the evidence surrounding the infection rates following a mass sporting event.

Other discussions over the safe return of fans include plans to close toilets at half-time due to concerns over the “brush past” risk when fans are moving around, filling one in every three seats and banning away fans.

A working group has been set up involving the main sports, Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, as well as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Image: Ruaraidh Gillies / (CC BY-SA 2.0) / Edited for size