Fans can finally rejoice after hearing that the government reveals when fans can return to stadiums up and down the nation.
It’s not definitely a ‘green light’ but Boris Johnson has said on Friday morning what is the aim is to bring audiences back “in stadia”.
Supporters have been banned from entering through the turnstiles since football returned – with just 300 players, staff and personnel allowed in the stands.
“From October we intend to bring back audiences in stadiums.” pic.twitter.com/0W4ZQQpmrG
— Grassroots (@FootballGrf) July 17, 2020
Trials are set to take place to make sure it works with the EFL already looking at Cambridge United and Charlton Athletic being among the first to host a selected amount of fans.
Johnson claimed: “From 1 August we will pilot larger gatherings in venues like sports stadia with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn.
“From October we intend to bring back audiences in stadia in a Covid-secure way subject to the successful outcome of pilots.
“Again, these changes must be done in a Covid-secure way, subject to the successful outcome of pilots.”
In a statement, the EFL said: “The EFL is working with the SGSA on a joint project looking at the impact of applying social distancing to football stadia.
“As a result, work is ongoing at Charlton Athletic and Cambridge United that involves modelling the crowd dynamics of two very different football grounds. This will help us measure the potential impact on stadium capacity and better understand how clubs will need to adjust their matchday operations so that as many fans as possible can be admitted in a safe environment.
“The help and support provided by both clubs has been invaluable and will inform future guidance that will go to all clubs once the Government gives the green light for crowds to return to matches. At this stage we do not know when that will be but we continue to prepare for such an outcome.”
The number of fans who could be let into Premier League stadiums next season has seemingly been revealed according to various reports within the last week.
League officials want to allow a certain number of supporters to return through the turnstiles again as soon as next season starts up again around mid-September rather than the usual mid-August.
Premier League clubs could collectively lose out on £500m worth of revenue because of the devastating drop in income which results from rebates to broadcasters and commercial partners as well as the collapse of matchday revenue with games behind closed doors.
Supporters have been banned from entering grounds since the football season resumed in June, due to government advice.
That could be all about to change however after it’s said that Premier League clubs have reportedly already started consulting with supporter groups to prepare for a “partial return”.
Following the latest coronavirus update from the Government, fans could end up being forced to wear face masks if they want to attend games.
It was prior to ‘Project Restart’ that leading health officials suggested that supporters might not be allowed back to games until a vaccine for the virus had been found.
But because of how successful the restart has gone, plus the easing of the pandemic and drop in the number of cases and deaths, football bosses want to finally get fans attending matches again.
It is understood chiefs have contacted all 20 top flight clubs to discuss a fixed percentage of supporters, suggested of between 20 and 30 per cent, returning to games.
A ballot system would be put in place to decide what is chosen so the process is deemed fair and acceptable.
It should be worth noting that there are no talk of giving priority to season ticket holders, sponsors or corporate members.
There would be strict protocols in which fans are let in, they would be required to have health checks including a temperature test, filling in a questionnaire, be scanned and have any bags searched.
West Ham chief Karren Brady claims Premier League and government are aiming to have fans back in full stadiums by September https://t.co/BG8wmnen1e
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) July 11, 2020
West Ham chief executive Karren Brady revealed addition details on those plans in her column a few days ago: “The aim of the Premier League, the Government and the SAG (the Safety Advisory Group who issue the licenses for the stadium to hold supporters) is to have fans back in FULL football stadiums by September.
“Before then we will need to work out the Government’s interpretation of social distancing — one metre, two metres or something in between. And we must work out how to reduce the risk of transmission during travel to and from the stadium.
“To trial new ways of doing things there will be host of test events in August which will help form the policy going forward so we can finally open the turnstiles.”
The English Football League are eyeing two potential start dates for the much anticipated 2020/21 season following an important meeting which took place recently. A vote it expected to happen but it has been delayed, something the EFL tend to be good at doing, following the recent frustration to end or resume the league season.
If trials are successful then it is hoped grounds will be able to reopen at 25 per cent capacity in September before welcoming more fans later in the season with match-day gate receipts contributing to more than a third of revenue for some clubs. .
Speaking to the club’s official website, Shrewsbury chief executive Brian Caldwell revealed: “The EFL stated that they have been in discussion with the government for several weeks now regarding fans returning safely to grounds with social distancing measure still in place.
“The EFL are working closely with the Sports Ground Safety Authority on a study to look at crowd flows and social distancing to help ensure some form of fans can return to games safely on a potential reduced attendance.
“I think the main thing for fans to take away from this is that everything is being done to try and ensure fans can return to matches as soon as possible providing it’s safe of course.
“It was mentioned that they are working closely with government and the relevant authorities with the goal of hopefully having the possibility of fans even on reduced attendances returning for the start of next season all being well.
“At the moment, we’re working around the international break on September 5, would leave us with two potential start dates, either August 29 or September 12.
“If we were to vote on the 29th that would mean nine midweek matches instead of the normal five, with no runs of three league midweek games in a row.
“If we were to vote on the 12th this would firstly mean a broken start to the new campaign as some clubs may have players away on international duty for up to 10 days.
“On top of that, midweek matches would become 11 instead of five therefore meaning that there could be three midweek games back-to-back. Part of the issue is the loss of furlough from an earlier return on August 29.
“Either option will cause a backload which is why it’s important to try and get crowds in if we can.”
It’s revealed that National League clubs may be allowed to fill a third of stadiums with supporters next season.
For example, Chesterfield would be able to have around 3,300 fans in their 10,000 all-seater stadium.
David Haythornthwaite, chairman of the Coasters, has said that talks remain ongoing about what is best for how and when to start the season, with the date rumoured to be around mid-September.
Allowing fans back in the stands in grounds up and down the nation is vital for non league clubs at this level of football as majority depend on the matchday revenue to keep themselves going otherwise risk being able to run it and potentially face having no choice but to go out of existence.
AFC Fylde owner, David Haythornthwaite, said: “Everyone is trying to get a date for when football starts again and, critically, for when football starts again with crowds.
“It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to start without crowds in non-league.
“They are talking about clubs being allowed to have one third of their capacity.
“In our case, that will allow us to have 1,600. I said straightaway: ‘That’s perfect for us. We never get more than 1,600, so that would be great’.
“If it’s going to happen with one-third of (maximum) crowds in the leagues above, there’s no reason why non-league can’t start with crowds.”
However, he believes visiting fans will not be allowed into stadiums, and gave no explanation as to ways they could watch it from back home.
“I don’t think there are going to be any away fans for obvious reasons and I’m not quite sure how you keep the social distancing,” he added.
“It’s quite easy to do with seating but I’m not sure they’ve thought it through with standing.
“So it’s a bit of a ray of sunshine.”