UK

The Prime Minister announces thousands of fans will be allowed in to watch live sport from May 17

Fans will be back at elite sports events from May 17 with 10,000 supporters allowed at the biggest venues – like Wembley and large Premier league football grounds – but relaxation of the rules will come too late for the FA Cup final.

Speaking in the Commons today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed plans for a cautious return of supporters to attend top level sport in time for the last round of Premier League fixtures, the European Championships, Wimbledon and the Rugby League World Cup, among other stellar events in the nation’s summer of sport. 

The Government’s roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions sets out four key steps. The document reveals that fans will return to stadiums and indoor arenas in Step Three from May 17 and in Step Four, from June 21,.

Supporters have been locked out of stadiums on and off since lockdown one in March

It appears that in Step Four there will be NO limits on stadium capacities if the virus is still in retreat, and where Government scientists believe it is safe with testing used to reduce the risk of infection.

Earlier than that though, from May 17, indoor venues will be allowed to admit up to a maximum of 1,000 spectators, or half their capacity if that figure is lower.

THE NEW LIMITS FROM MAY 17 

From May 17, indoor venues will be allowed to admit up to a maximum of 1,000 spectators, or half their capacity if that figure is lower.

For outdoor events, there will be a maximum of 4,000 fans allowed, or half a venue’s capacity (whichever figure is lower).

However, at the biggest stadiums, such as Wembley, a maximum of 10,000 fans will be allowed, or a quarter of capacity (whichever figure is lower).

It is still not clear which stadiums qualify as these ‘biggest’ venues… so it remains to be seen whether Test matches and Wimbledon, among others, will be allowed up to 10,000 fans or just 4,000.

For outdoor events, there will be a maximum of 4,000 fans allowed, or half a venue’s capacity (whichever figure is lower).

However, at the biggest stadiums, such as Wembley, a maximum of 10,000 fans will be allowed, or a quarter of capacity (whichever figure is lower).

It is still not clear which stadiums qualify as these ‘biggest’ venues… so it remains to be seen whether Test matches and Wimbledon, among others, will be allowed up to 10,000 fans or just 4,000. 

The government’s roadmap document said: ‘The Government will also make a special provision for large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower. In addition, pilots will run as part of the Events Research Programme to examine how such events can take place without the need for social distancing using other mitigations such as testing.’ 

The announcement means that the last round of Premier League games will be played in front of fans, with all that entails for the Championship, European places and relegation.

However, the FA Cup Final is currently scheduled to be played ahead of the deadline. Sportsmail understands that the FA is aware of the situation, although it is unclear at this stage whether the match will be moved. 

As reported by Sportsmail earlier today, the timings mean the Carabao Cup Final between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur on April 25 will miss out and is likely to be played at Wembley in front of empty stands.

Fans were banned from stadiums in March, and returned briefly before lockdown three

Fans were banned from stadiums in March, and returned briefly before lockdown three

The Prime Minister's strategy will see rules eased on five-weekly intervals, with easings planned for March 8, March 29, April 12, May 17 and June 21

The Prime Minister’s strategy will see rules eased on five-weekly intervals, with easings planned for March 8, March 29, April 12, May 17 and June 21

Boris Johnson today unveiled his lockdown exit strategy with rules due to start being lifted from March 8

Boris Johnson today unveiled his lockdown exit strategy with rules due to start being lifted from March 8 

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has pushed for the safe return of fans

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has pushed for the safe return of fans

The roadmap does allow for further lifting of restrictions from March 29, but this is set to be modest and return the country to small outdoor gatherings of two families or a group of six people during April.

Johnson has been clear that he intends to take a cautious approach to easing restrictions and it will not be until the beginning of Step Four, from June 21, at the earliest, that crowd numbers can rise above the limits set out in Step Three.

The document states that Step Four will ‘enable large events above the Step 3 capacity restrictions, subject to the outcome of the scientific Events Research Programme’.

Elite sport learned a lot from test events last summer, including a friendly between Bright and Chelsea at the Amex, and the admission of fans during the tiers system, which allowed up to 4,000 supporters to attend events, during December.

Football sources say the aim is to be ready, whenever the government gives the green light.

Events will utilise the learning from previous events, which were based on social distancing measures.

That approach may be augmented by the findings of the government’s Sports Technology and Innovation Group, which has continued to work on solutions to make sport even safer.

Previously, as sport prepared to ramp up attendances at events, it was widely expected that additional capacity would be achieved through extensive use of rapid, lateral flow tests.

This would allow organisers to identify people who are carrying the virus, even if they have no symptoms, and prevent them from attending.

Like the rest of the country, expectations within elite sport have risen and fallen as the pandemic has developed.

Fans were banned from stadiums in March last year as the virus took hold. However, test events were held in the summer, including a friendly game between Brighton and Chelsea at the Amex Stadium, and delivered positive results and showed sport could manage the safe return of some, socially-distanced fans.

LIST OF SUMMER SPORTING EVENTS 

Women’s FA Cup final – May 22 

Final weekend of Premier League season – May 23

England v New Zealand – first Test match June 2, second Test match June 10

Euro 2020 – starts June 11, final July 11 (matches at venues across Europe including Wembley)

Government could lift restrictions on larger events – June 21

Wimbledon – June 28 (men’s final July 11)

British Grand Prix at Silverstone – July 18 

At that stage, it had been hoped that fans would begin to return in larger numbers in the autmn and winter, with further tests scheduled for October.

As infection rates rose, those events were cancelled. The introduction of the tier system in early December allowed up to 4,000 fans to be admitted to stadiums in tier one areas and up to 2,000 in tier two, but none in tier three.

However, rapidly rising infection rates led to the country being placed under tier four restrictions at the end of December and in early January a full lockdwn was imposed. 

Announcement gives hope to possibility of ALL Euro 2020 being staged in Britain this summer 

British efforts to stage the entirety of this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament have been boosted by news that large venues such as Wembley will be permitted to host 10,000 fans from May 17. 

As announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the Commons on Monday afternoon, spectators will be allowed back into sporting events from the middle of May as the Government gradually rolls back Covid-19 restrictions.From May 17, indoor venues will be allowed to admit up to a maximum of 1,000 spectators, or half their capacity if that figure is lower.

For outdoor events, there will be a maximum of 4,000 fans allowed, or half a venue’s capacity (whichever figure is lower).

Britain's offer to stage more matches at this summer's Euro 2020 tournament have received a boost by news large venues such as Wembley (pictured) will be permitted 10,000 spectators at events from May 17

Britain’s offer to stage more matches at this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament have received a boost by news large venues such as Wembley (pictured) will be permitted 10,000 spectators at events from May 17  

However, at the biggest stadiums, such as Wembley, a maximum of 10,000 fans will be allowed, or a quarter of capacity (whichever figure is lower).

It is still not clear which stadiums qualify as these ‘biggest’ venues, so it remains to be seen whether Test matches and Wimbledon, among others, will be allowed up to 10,000 fans or just 4,000.

If Covid cases continue to fall, it is possible all restrictions on crowds could be abolished on June 21 under Stage Four of the Government’s plans, raising the possibility the knockout games could be played in front of larger Wembley crowds.

Wembley is set to stage England’s group stage matches, a last-16 tie, both semi-finals and the final of this summer’s European Championship, which is currently scheduled to be played in 12 cities around Europe.

Wembley is set to stage England's group matches, both semi-finals and the final of Euro 2020

Wembley is set to stage England’s group matches, both semi-finals and the final of Euro 2020 

At the weekend, it was reported that culture secretary Oliver Dowden told UEFA that progress on vaccinations in the UK means crowds will be back inside stadiums before much of Europe.

The Sunday Times said that Britain is offering to host the whole European Championship with the Government ‘responding positively’ to the prospect of taking on more games if asked by UEFA.

Hampden Park in Glasgow is also set to stage some matches at the Euros.

UEFA remains committed to the original plan for the Championship, pushed back 12 months because of the pandemic, which involves playing games in 12 different cities across Europe.

The competition, which runs from June 11 until July 11, is set to be held in London, Glasgow, Dublin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, St Petersburg, Bilbao, Munich, Budapest, Baku, Rome and Bucharest. 

However, the slower progress of vaccination programmes in Europe and the complexities of Covid-19 travel restrictions and quarantines mean plans for a pan-continental tournament could yet change. 

The May 17 date comes two days after the FA Cup final is due to be staged at Wembley. Sportsmail understands that the FA is aware of the situation, although it is unclear at this stage whether the match will be moved. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the largest stadiums, such as Wembley, will be permitted 10,000 spectators inside or a quarter of capacity (whichever is lower)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the largest stadiums, such as Wembley, will be permitted 10,000 spectators inside or a quarter of capacity (whichever is lower) 

As revealed by Sportsmail, the timings mean the Carabao Cup Final between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur on April 25 will miss out and is likely to be played at Wembley in front of empty stands.

The roadmap announced by Johnson does allow for further lifting of restrictions from March 29, but this is set to be modest and return the country to small outdoor gatherings of two families or a group of six people during April.

Elite sport learned a lot from test events last summer and the admission of fans during the tiers system, which allowed up to 4,000 supporters to attend events, during December.

Football sources say the aim is to be ready, whenever the government gives the green light.

UEFA plans to stage Euro 2020 at 12 difference venues right across Europe but the situation has been complicated by Covid-19 restrictions

UEFA plans to stage Euro 2020 at 12 difference venues right across Europe but the situation has been complicated by Covid-19 restrictions 

It is likely that test events will take place, utilising the learning from previous events, which were based on social distancing measures.

That approach may be augmented by the findings of the government’s Sports Technology and Innovation Group, which has continued to work on solutions to make sport even safer.

Previously, as sport prepared to ramp up attendances at events, it was widely expected that additional capacity would achieve through extensive use of rapid, lateral flow tests.

This would allow organisers to identify people who are carrying the virus, even if they have no symptoms, and prevent them from attending.

Like the rest of the country, expectations within elite sport have risen and fallen as the pandemic has developed.

England played a number of international games behind closed doors at Wembley in 2020

England played a number of international games behind closed doors at Wembley in 2020


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button