West Ham United has become the first Premier League football club to confirm ballots will be held for season ticket holders looking to gain access to reduced capacity games.

The club, which will continue to sell passes as usual, said that in the event of matches with social distancing in place and a restricted number of supporters present, it will adopt an automatic ballot system.

West Ham assured fans that the system would ensure season ticket holders could attend an equal number of matches. If a supporter is not selected in the ballot, they will be automatically refunded and prioritised for an upcoming match.

In addition, the London club said it would work to ensure families and groups of supporters who attend together can do so through the ballot process.

It also noted that for every match it is unable to welcome fans to London Stadium in the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 social distancing measures, it will automatically refund the pro-rata value of the match to the pay holder’s card or account within 30 days of the fixture taking place.

Pilot sporting events have taken place this month to build up to and prepare for the full, socially distanced return of sporting events from October 1. Sports venues in the UK have been closed to spectators since lockdown measures were implemented on March 23.

West Ham has announced two other options for fans amid the uncertainty of whether they will be able to return due to COVID-19. Supporters can renew their season tickets and transfer them to a friend or family member for part or the full season.

Fans have also been given the option to secure their seat for larger home crowds, if they return at a later point in the season. They can opt to secure their seat by making a part-payment of 30 per cent of their season ticket cost. Once a 70 per cent capacity or upwards is permitted for Premier League matches at London Stadium, fans will have the right to purchase the remaining pro-rata value of their pass in a sales window.

In the event that a capacity of 70 per cent or greater is not permitted at London Stadium during the 2020-21 season, the 30 per cent part-payment will be offset against the season ticket for the 2021-22 season.

West Ham said in a statement: “Our loyal and passionate supporters are the lifeblood of our football club and have been greatly missed since the 2019/20 Premier League campaign restarted in June.

“While we have done as much as we can to bring the matchday experience to fans in recent weeks through the broadcast of fixtures and on our digital channels, nothing can replace the inspirational sight and sound of the Claret and Blue army roaring the team on at London Stadium, and we cannot wait until we are all back together again.”

Image: Hammersfan / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Edited for size