Ticketmaster Sport, SecuTix and SeatGeek Sport have joined forces to develop a set of guidelines to support the return of fans to live sporting events in the UK.

The work to identify a framework of ticketing standards for the industry was carried out on behalf of the Sports Technology and Innovation Group (STIG), which was set up by the UK Government in September to identify technological solutions for the safe return of fans.

The guidelines include a 10-step process through the fan journey from ticket purchase to post-event communication. The steps include a fan risk assessment, identifying modes of transport, a pre-event health questionnaire and notifications before and after the event. It identifies the minimum requirement for ticketing companies, along with the gold standard to aim for.

David Ross, chair of STIG, said: “I’m delighted that three of the country’s largest ticketing companies have come together to identify a way forward that not only sets the standard for the return of fans to sport events, but helps to keep them safe. The atmosphere at stadiums is hugely important and it’s built on fans being in the stands. So it’s great that we will be able to get back to cheering our teams again soon.”

While the approach has been developed for the return of fans to sports grounds, the principles can be used for the management of ticket sales for all live events.

Fans will be allowed back in English stadiums and venues from tomorrow (Wednesday) as part of guidelines that will be based on the government’s new tiered lockdown system.

The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), confirmed that 4,000 fans, or 50 per cent of the stadium capacity – whichever is lower – will be allowed in Tier 1 areas. In Tier 2 areas, the attendance cap has been set at 2,000, or 50 per cent of the stadium capacity. Indoor sporting events and fixtures in Tier 1 and Tier 2 will be able to host a maximum of 1,000 fans, or 50 per cent of capacity.

David Hornby, managing director of SecuTix UK & Ireland, said: “This is a significant first step to achieving the ultimate goal of a return to full stadiums. We’re pleased that the sports ticketing sector came together to advise the government and that we now have an agreed set of standards that can be met across all levels of sport.

“All levels were important. We recognise that venues have different systems, some more technologically advanced than others, and varying pressures on resources, and that is why our recommendations are scalable, from the minimum standard to a ‘gold’ level. No matter which current ticketing system a venue uses and the resources they have internally, they will be able to achieve the protocols and start to welcome fans back safely.”

STIG staged its first meeting on September 24 after the announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the planned socially distanced return of fans to English sports stadia from October 1 had been postponed due to the rise in COVID-19 infection rates across the country. Following test events across football, rugby union, cricket, snooker and basketball, the pilot programme for the return of spectators to sporting events was also postponed.

The formation of STIG was announced in August. Chaired by David Ross, co-founder of Carphone Warehouse and non-executive director of the British Olympic Association (BOA), the STIG’s first meeting was also attended by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, who has played a key role in producing government guidance around the safe return of elite and grassroots sport, alongside representatives from the Premier League, Microsoft, Innovate Finance and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), amongst others.

Nigel Huddleston, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, said: “A crucial step forward for sport’s recovery from coronavirus is the return of fans. Coupled with the government’s new guidance around their safe return from 2 December with capacity limits in place, the work of some of our leading ticket companies will ensure fans know how to play their part and minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus. By working together, we will be able to get crowds back to larger capacities as soon as it is safe to do so.”