Sport is well on way back - now fans are told when they can go and watch live

Football and other sports are likely to see crowds return in October.

Crawley Town FC's stadium, which can expect to welcome fans back in or around October / Picture: Getty
Crawley Town FC's stadium, which can expect to welcome fans back in or around October / Picture: Getty

Prime minister Boris Johnson made the announcement today as he outlined the next stages of coronavirus lockdown restrictions being eased.

His comments suggest that sports like football, rugby and hockey will all be up and running again by then, with fans allowed to watch in greater numbers in the autumn.

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Johnson said: "We will pilot larger gatherings in venues like sports stadiums with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn. From October, we intend to bring back audiences in stadiums.

"Again, these changes must be done in a Covid-secure way, subject to the successful outcome of pilots."

Pilots will be held to trial crowds returning to sport - these will be at county cricket friendly matches including Surrey v Middlesex at The Oval on 26-27 July; the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre from 31 July, and the final day of the Glorious Goodwood horse-racing festival.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston.said: "For months, millions of us have felt the void of being unable to go to the match to support our team or attend a top-class sporting event. So I am pleased that we are now able to move forward with a plan to help venues safely reopen their doors to fans.

"I recognise that not every sport, team or club has the benefit of huge commercial revenue, and it is often their dedicated fans that are the lifeblood which helps keep them going. By working closely with sports and medical experts, these pilots will help ensure the safe return of fans to stadiums.

"Although it will remain some time before venues are full to capacity, this is a major step in the right direction for the resumption of live spectator sport across the country."

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport says further pilot events are likely to be held in other sports. In order for fans to return to stadiums, the government has outlined operating guidelines:

* Fans must agree to a new code of behaviour that includes not attending if they potentially have symptoms of coronavirus or have been exposed to a person who has tested positive;

* Social distancing must be observed in seating arrangements;

* Crowd management plans should be in place, including the controlled entry and exit of fans and one-way systems;

* Additional hygiene facilities should be installed inside venues, particularly at entrances and exits;

* Screening procedures should be considered at stadia entrances.