Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers has opened a ticketing ballot for fans hoping to attend the first game back at the club’s stadium next month.
With English stadiums set to be reopened at 25-per-cent capacity or a limit of 10,000 attendees from May 17 as part of the UK Government’s COVID-19 roadmap out of lockdown, Wolves has outlined plans for a random draw to select the supporters who will be able to attend its final home game of the season, against Manchester United, on Sunday, May 23.
The ballot is open to season ticket holders from the 2019/20 season, and will run until midnight on Tuesday, May 4. A random draw will be made at 5pm on May 7, and successful supporters will then be given an exclusive window to purchase tickets for the game, pending confirmation of Step 3 changes from the government.
Details on capacity, pricing and the impact of social distancing on the matchday experience will be announced following the close of the ballot, the club said. With Molineux’s capacity at 32,000, up to 8,000 fans could be allowed to attend the game should the 25-per-cent restriction be confirmed in the coming weeks.
A club spokesperson said: “In consultation with supporters, the ballot model was deemed the fairest way to decide which Wolves supporters will be able to make their long-awaited return to Molineux for the Premier League season finale next month.”
Wolves added that all tickets are non-transferable and can only be used by the named season ticket holder. Supporters will be subject to ID checks on the day of the game and if the photo ID does not match the name on the ticket, the supporter will be refused entry.
While some clubs were allowed to welcome fans towards the end of 2020 under the tier system, West Midlands-based Wolves has not played in front of supporters in a Premier League match since its game against Brighton on March 7, 2020.
The nine other teams set to host games on May 23 – the final day of the 2020-21 Premier League season – have so far been reticent about releasing information on ticketing arrangements, perhaps because confirmation of the Step 3 loosening of restrictions will not be confirmed by the authorities until early May.
According to the Birmingham Mail, Aston Villa has said it will welcome applications for tickets from 2019-20 season ticket holders and deploy a ballot if demand outstrips supply. Villa could potentially play in front of the maximum 10,000 spectators at its 43,000-capacity stadium for the visit of Chelsea.
It has been reported that the Premier League is set to move gameweek 37 from the weekend of May 15-16 to May 18-19, after the country enters Step 3, to ensure all clubs can play in front of home fans at least once. A report in the Times newspaper on Friday also claimed that clubs are set to be allowed up to 500 away fans attending matches in the final two rounds of the season as part of crowds of 10,000 supporters.
As part of the Government’s test events programme, Premier League clubs Southampton and Leicester City played in front of fans at their FA Cup semi-final earlier this month, while 8,000 spectators watched the League Cup final between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.