Here’s what you need to know about when supporters will be allowed to watch their teams amid the Covid-19 pandemic
Supporters have not been allowed to attend games since March 2020, when the Covid-19 outbreak spread worldwide and football was forced to undergo a three-month suspension.
Football matches with thousands of fans in attendance would be a viral hotbed, and so following the restart of Premier League football in June, matches were played behind closed doors.
But when will supporters be able to return to watch their teams? Goal takes a look.
When will fans be allowed back at Premier League matches?
As it stands, there will be no fans attending Premier League matches that begin on September 12, but there are tentative plans to re-introduce supporters starting early October.
Clubs such as Arsenal have used October 3 as a potential date to allow a certain number of fans to attend games.
A statement on the club website read: “Although our home fixture against West Ham United on Sunday, September 20 will be played behind closed doors, based on the current UK government guidelines we hope to be able to welcome supporters back to Emirates Stadium on a reduced capacity basis from the Sheffield United game scheduled for Saturday, October 3.”
Slow measures have been introduced to trial fan attendance during the time of Covid-19, with Chelsea’s friendly with Brighton in late August permitting 2,500 fans in the Amex Stadium.
Premier League CEO Richard Masters said of the trial: “Brighton and Hove Albion did a fantastic job at their test event for the return of supporters and it was great to see fans in a Premier League stadium for the first time since March.
“The success of having 2,500 supporters in the Amex was very encouraging and we are committed to having full stadia as soon as possible, with safety always our priority. We are working hard alongside our clubs, the government and the safety authorities to achieve this.”
Should stadiums even re-open for supporters in early October, however, they will be nowhere near the full capacity.
Social distancing guidelines are set sure to be enforced, with a one-metre rule to be implemented between each supporter in attendance.
This means that only a small percentage of fans (understood to be between 20 to 30 per cent) will be able to watch their team.
Burnley stadium Turf Moor, for example, allows for 21,401 people at maximum capacity, but with social distancing rules, a maximum of 5,820 fans would be allowed in.
Furthermore, according to the Daily Mail, there will be no away fans allowed at stadiums – and chanting and singing are also said to be forbidden, as Covid-19 can be spread through airwaves by respiratory droplets.
How will Premier League clubs decide who will attend games?
The demand for match tickets has always been high, and so demand for match tickets with significantly reduced capacity will be even higher.
This leaves clubs with the problem of having to select which fans will be able to attend matches in person.
Arsenal said in their statement that ticket availability would be first given to season ticket holders, with other clubs likely to follow their lead.
“Based on our consultation with various fan groups we anticipate very high demand for the limited tickets available. Taking these factors into account we have determined that Gold season ticket holders and Premium members will have priority access to the limited tickets available,” the north London club said.
“We hope to be able to safely increase the capacity during the 2020-21 season and we will share further information if we are able to allocate tickets to other member groups or non members.”