Early Plans Revealed to Get Some Fans Back in Football Grounds in September

Chelsea FC v Manchester United - Premier League
Stadiums could be filled in limited capacities amid cautions surrounding COVID-19. | Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Fans being unable to attend away games is one of several rules being considered for next season as football looks to return to normality following the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The game ground to a halt across all of Europe’s top five leagues back in March as the coronavirus spread across the globe, resulting in a three-month absence of the sport.

With sport now back underway – albeit under new rules to ensure maximum safety and distancing where possible – officials and fans alike are all wondering when football can take more strides towards normality.

Bruno FernandesBruno Fernandes
Fixtures across Europe are still being played behind closed doors | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

A report from the Guardian explains that ‘stage five’ of a plan from UK government officials look to get fans back into stadiums in a limited capacity, potentially seeing one third of grounds being filled.

The plans are described as at an ‘early stage’ but target September as the date for supporters to return to grounds with precautionary measures in place, should the progress of the coronavirus allow for it.

Early plans suggest that away support could be scrapped as grounds won’t be filled to full capacity, and toilets will be shut at half-time to avoid congestion and queuing in the concourse. Clubs would likely prioritise getting home fans into the venue, with season-ticket holders being front of the queue.

Authorities are less concerned about COVID-19 droplets being spread in the stands, but more so with the risk of fans brushing past one another when moving through a ground.

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier LeagueTottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League
Limited capacities would stop congestion in the concourse of grounds on matchdays | Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

To prevent crowding further, the prospect of fans being able to drink alcohol in the stands is being considered. Staff would bring refreshments to people in their seats in order to avoid congestion and queuing, while being allowed to drink alcohol in the stands would stop people congregating in the concourse, as alcohol is prohibited from being taken out to seats in UK grounds.

Both the Premier League and the Championship have resumed play behind closed doors following the lockdown period, while League One and League Two clubs voted to end the season early and decide standings via points-per-game.

The playoffs for Leagues One and Two are still being played however, with the League One playoff final set to take place at Wembley on Monday.