The UK government has announced a new tranche of sporting events that will be used to pilot the safe return of spectators with a view to a full reopening for fans in October.

The events cover a range of different event styles across the country’s major men’s and women’s spectator sports.

The pre-season friendly between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea will this weekend become the first Premier League match played in front of fans in almost six months. Some 2,500 tickets will be available for the game at Brighton’s Amex Stadium on Saturday, which will be offered to the home side’s season-ticket holders and members for between £5-£15 with no ticket sales on the day.

Test events must conform with strict measures designed to limit the spread of Covid-19, including upholding social distancing in queues and minimising the risk of any pinch points or crowding. Operators must also carefully control bookings so that social distancing is observed in seating arrangements, minimise the numbers of tickets sold to a predefined safe capacity, in accordance with regulator guidance, and record people’s data to assist NHS Test and Trace.

Among the around a dozen events are a Premiership rugby fixture between Harlequins and Bath at Twickenham Stoop, some cricket T20 Blast group fixtures and horse racing at Doncaster, Warwick and Newmarket. They come after similar trials at the recent World Snooker Championship final at the Crucible and cricket at Edgbaston and the Oval.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “I know fans and their teams can’t wait to be reunited in stadia across the country but it’s imperative we take a cautious and phased approach to get fans back in safely.

“I’m pleased that infection rates have levelled off enough to resume the pilot programme and we will continue to work intensively with sports, medical and health and safety experts towards welcoming more fans back as fast as we can.”

Live Nation Germany

Live Nation has delayed its first concert in Germany since March to late autumn due to the state government’s reservations about the safety of the event.

The rescheduling comes after a reported rise in the rate of COVID-19 infections in Germany, which means renewed capacity restrictions are imminent.

Live Nation organised the ‘Give Live A Chance’ gig at Düsseldorf’s Merkur Spiel-Arena, which was originally scheduled for September 4 and was due to feature a number of artists including Canadian rock star Bryan Adams, Sarah Connor and Rea Garvey.

The 66,000-capacity arena would have been less than a fifth full due to social distancing restrictions. Some 7,000 tickets for the 12,000-capacity concert had already been sold and will now be refunded.

Image: Jonathan Rolande / CC BY 2.0 / Edited for size