PREMIER League fans awaiting their teams’ fixtures this morning are being given fresh hope they will be able to attend matches as soon as October.
The Football Association is planning for some spectators to be present at England’s next three home games — the first of which is a friendly against Wales at Wembley on October 8.
With the government already having highlighted that as a possible month for supporters to start reattending sporting events, it raises the possibility that only the first few weeks of fixtures being announced at 9am will be played completely behind closed doors. The new campaign begins on the weekend of September 12 and 13.
There are huge caveats — only a fraction of the usual stadium capacities would be utilised with social distancing measures in place — while yesterday’s reported spike in coronavirus cases among Premier League teams could also jeopardise the plans.
But with Uefa having highlighted the Super Cup final in Budapest on September 24 as a possible pilot for a reduced number of fans being allowed in, the FA is tentatively hoping to open the doors for the following month’s triple-header, which also brings Belgium and Denmark to Wembley in the Nations League.
‘To what level, we have obviously got to work out with both Uefa and the government,’ said chief executive Mark Bullingham. ‘We are not talking about full stadia but we are talking about having some level of crowds back in October as our goal.’
A small number of fans will enter English non-league football grounds for the first time since March on Saturday after discussions between the FA, the government and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority.
Sides from the seventh tier — the Northern, Southern and Isthmian Leagues — and below, plus the women’s game from the third tier down will initially be allowed 15 per cent of their ground capacity, rising to 30 per cent on August 31. However, any plans remain under review and a warning of the problems that remain was fired with reports of 14 new coronavirus cases at 12 Premier League training camps, with concerns this may increase as players return from their holidays.
There were just 30 positive cases from around 35,000 tests carried out during Project Restart.