Sports fans will be allowed back into stadiums around the country from the start of next week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the next stage of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown will go ahead as planned.
Large outdoor venues will be allowed up to 10,000 fans or a quarter of their capacity - whichever figure is lower.
For smaller outdoor venues capacities will be capped at 4,000 or 50 per cent, whichever is the lowest. The indoor venue cap will be 1,000 or 50 per cent, whichever is the lowest.
Further easing is currently scheduled for June 21, but today’s confirmation paves the way for reduced crowds to attend several major sporting events prior to that date, including England’s Test series against New Zealand, Gateshead’s season-opening Diamond League event and racing’s Royal Ascot and Epsom Derby meetings.
In anticipation of the relaxing of restrictions, the Premier League had already pushed back its penultimate round of fixtures to May 18 and 19 in order to ensure all 20 clubs get chance to play one home game in front of a crowd before the end of the campaign, with the final day of the season set for May 23.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters welcomed the announcement and said he hoped to see stadiums back at full capacity for the start of next season.
“It will be brilliant to see fans back,” he said in a statemen. “They have been hugely missed and the Premier League has not been the same without them. Their presence will ensure a fantastic finale to the end of our season.
“Although only a small number of home fans will be at our matches next week, this is an important step in our return to normality.
“We will continue to work with the Government and other authorities as our priority is to have full vibrant stadiums - including away supporters - from the start of next season. Only then will we get back to the real Premier League.”
A number of test events have already seen fans return to sporting venues, with last month’s Carabao Cup final attended by just shy of 8,000 people at Wembley, while the final of snooker’s World Championship was played out in front of a capacity crowd at the Crucible. Saturday’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leicester is due to be the biggest event yet, with 21,000 fans expected.
Meanwhile, the FA had already confirmed that at least 22,500 fans will be able to attend each match staged at Wembley during Euro 2020, which starts next month, with the hope of increasing that to as many as 45,000 by the tournament’s semi-finals and final in July.