Boris Johnson has announced that football fans could be allowed to return to stadia from October as the government continues its steps towards normality amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The impact of the global crisis saw football in the UK suspended for three months before returning with the absence of fans from stadiums, the Premier League and Championship resuming their respective campaigns behind-closed-doors in recent weeks alongside a strict testing regime.
League One and Two sides voted to end their seasons prematurely and the news of restrictions being lifted will be a welcome boost to lower-tier sides, providing much-needed match day revenue which is vital to the running of clubs further down the footballing pyramid.
The Prime Minister announced his hope that supporters will be able to attend fixtures from the autumn, revealing the news during a coronavirus briefing to the press on Friday morning.
“From 1 August, we will restart indoor performances to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots, and we will also pilot larger gatherings in venues like sports stadia, with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn,” Johnson said at the Downing Street press briefing.
“From October we intend to bring back audiences in stadia,” he added. “Again these changes must be done in a Covid-secure way, subject to the successful outcome of pilots.”
Stadiums are almost certain to reopen at reduced capacities with social distancing measures put into place amid the initial reintroduction of supporters, whilst several issues – including sanitising measures and transport infrastructure – must be addressed before a successful return can operate.
It is expected that the 2020/21 season will kick off on September 12th, less than three weeks after the conclusion of this season’s Champions League and Europa League.