Football bosses welcomed the Government’s decision to allow a limited number of spectators back into venues in lower-risk areas when the second national lockdown ends next week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined plans for a return to a regionalised tier system from December 2 to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Outdoor venues in tier one areas – those considered lowest risk – will be permitted to admit up to 4,000 spectators to an event or allow 50 per cent capacity, whichever is lower.
Outdoor venues in tier two would be permitted to admit up to 2,000 fans or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is lower, while the caps were 2,000 and 1,000 respectively for indoor venues in tiers one and two.
Clarity is expected over which areas will be placed into the respective tiers on Thursday.
Spectators had been set to return to sports venues on a limited, socially distanced basis from October 1, with venues preparing to go as high as one-third of full capacity.
However, a rise in coronavirus infections led the Government to pause those plans, with hopes receding still further when the country entered a second national lockdown earlier this month amid fears the NHS could be overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases.
The Football Association welcomed both announcements, saying in a statement: “We are very pleased that organised sports, which include Steps 3-6 of the National League System [NLS], Tiers 3-6 of the Women’s Football Pyramid [WFP] and competitive grassroots football, can look forward to resuming from December 2.
“We are also delighted to see the beginning of the safe return of fans in stadiums for elite sports events and confirmation that spectators at non-elite sports will be able to attend events in line with Covid-secure guidance for each tier.
“We will continue our ongoing dialogue with Government to clarify the details and next steps, and provide further updates in due course.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This is a big step forward for sport.
“I’m confident that sports will take every step to ensure their fans are safe, and fans will play their part and look out for each other until we can safely get everyone back in.”
Source : times