Fans to Return to Football Grounds in Larger English Pilot


Football fans will be allowed back into some grounds across the Football League this weekend as part of an ongoing pilot.

Government guidance allows for some selected matches taking place in the Championship, League One and League Two to be open to spectators, with crowds capped at 1,000.

It follows a successful pilot at Cambridge United, where fans were allowed in to watch their side beat Fulham U21s at the Abbey Stadium in the EFL Trophy – a match attended by 862 fans. It was the first time fans were permitted inside stadia at professional level since the Coronavirus pandemic stopped football in the UK.

Fans have been permitted to attend non-league matches where attendances have been vital to keeping clubs afloat with ticket revenue.

Fans were also permitted to watch Brighton and Hove Albion face Chelsea at the AMEX Stadium in a pre-season friendly earlier in the month.

Luton Town were originally selected to host Derby County in the Championship, but withdrew due to a lack of time to prepare for the game, according to a statement on their website.

The matches this weekend which will be open to no more than 1,000 fans each are:

Norwich City vs Preston North End (Championship)

Middlesbrough vs AFC Bournemouth (Championship)

Charlton Athletic vs Doncaster Rovers (L1)

Blackpool vs Swindon Town (L1)

Shrewsbury Town vs Northampton Town (L1)

Hull City vs Crewe Alexandra (L1)

Forest Green Rovers vs Bradford City (L2)

Carlisle United vs Southend United (L2)

Morecambe vs Cambridge United (L2)

In a statement, DCMS Secretary Oliver Dowden MP said, “I know that many fans are eager to return to football and that jobs depend on it too, so fans will welcome news that the EFL will be running number-capped, COVID-secure, and socially distanced pilots this weekend. It will help us build the evidence base to see how we can return fans safely in greater numbers as soon as it is safe to do so”.

Meanwhile, EFL Chair Rick Parry said,

The health and wellbeing of supporters and their wider communities remains the priority but as we showed at Cambridge [United’s Abbey Stadium], social distancing can be applied safely.

Premier League clubs, however, will continue to play games behind closed doors.


Sports Editor and 2nd Year Population & Geography student

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