English Football League (EFL) has confirmed that fans will be allowed to attend 10 league matches this weekend in line with the United Kingdom’s government crowd pilot program.
In the first phase of the crowd pilots program, at most, 1,000 fans each will be allowed to attend three Championship matches, the same number of fans will be allowed to attend four League One matches, and the same number will also be allowed to attend three League Two matches. All the matches are scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 20.
The games that are selected for the pilot program will be hosted by teams located where there is no high number of confirmed coronavirus cases. Any club that intends to host subsequent pilots crowd, if Saturday’s trial ends successfully, would have to apply through the EFL as far as there are no local lockdown restrictions in the communities where their home stadiums are located.
“It’s encouraging that we are in a position to move forward with the next phase of the pilot program and give a small number of our clubs the opportunity to welcome back up to 1,000 fans this week,” EFL chairman Rick Parry said.
“The health and wellbeing of supporters and their wider communities remain the priority, but as we showed at Cambridge [in a crowd pilot at 8 September’s EFL Trophy game], social distancing can be applied safely.
“The requirement to welcome spectators back through turnstiles has not diminished in any way, the financial challenges facing EFL clubs have been explained on numerous occasions, they are substantial and a problem that requires immediate solutions.”
Like most leagues in the world, football fans in the United Kingdom have not had the opportunity of watching live matches since March 2020 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Leagues matches that have been ongoing across the Kingdom are being played behind closed doors.
The UK government recently said the number of football fans that could be at a game venue could be scaled down to just 1,000 even from October 1 which was earlier expected to be a period where more fans will be allowed into stadiums.
Though the Premier League and the EFL are still agitating against scaling the number to 1,000, the UK government had said match venues located where there are a high number of confirmed cases of coronavirus and have local restrictions, would not have the opportunity of playing football matches with fans in attendance.
Below are the English Football League matches that will host 1,000 fans each:
Luton Town v Derby County
Middlesbrough v AFC Bournemouth
Norwich City v Preston North End
Blackpool v Swindon Town
Charlton Athletic v Doncaster Rovers
Hull City v Crewe Alexandra
Shrewsbury Town v Northampton Town
Carlisle United v Southend United
Forest Green Rovers v Bradford City
Morecambe v Cambridge United