Premier League clubs urge government to stick to October 1 for fans' return

Clubs want government to "remain committed to October 1 date for controlled return of fans to sporting venues"

Premier League clubs have urged the government to remain committed to the scheduled controlled return of fans on October 1 following a virtual meeting on Thursday.

Boris Johnson said last week plans for fans to return to sports stadiums from October 1 are to be reviewed, but that "doesn't mean we are abandoning it completely, we just need to review it".

Eight EFL clubs have been given permission to admit up to 1,000 spectators at games this weekend as part of the ongoing 'return of fans' pilot programme, with the organisation still in discussions with the government about a return for supporters in greater numbers after October 1.

The Premier League and its clubs met virtually on Thursday to discuss the return of their supporters to stadiums, noting the "significant impact" of the loss of matchday revenues during the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from the Premier League read: "Safety remains the number one priority and clubs reiterated their commitment to ensuring Premier League stadiums will be among the safest public places, through the effective use of a wide range of mitigation measures.

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"Clubs will adopt a range of common standards, which will help deliver bio-secure, safe environments for fans across the League.

"Clubs reaffirmed that the continued loss of matchday revenues is having a significant impact across the League as well as on the football pyramid and local and national economies.

"Taking into account the high safety standards which will be set by the Premier League in conjunction with the relevant public authorities, the League and clubs urge government to remain committed to the October 1 date for the controlled return of fans to sporting venues."

The Premier League said last week it had written to the Government to warn football stands to lose £100m a month while matches are played behind closed doors.

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A statement released on Friday read: "The Premier League has written to government today to express its concern at the decisions taken to restrict, and potentially delay, the planned programme for the return of fans to football stadiums.

"With test events now capped at 1,000 supporters, we believe they will not provide any opportunity to properly test and evaluate measures designed to maximise fan safety.

"Therefore, Premier League clubs will defer holding test events until a sufficient number of fans are allowed back to enable thorough trials to take place. At 1,000 supporters, not only would there be little to learn from a test event, but each match would be heavily loss-making.

"For each month of the season without fans, more than £100m is lost to football across the leagues, with consequent damage to the local and national economy.

Eight EFL games to host fans this weekend

Norwich and Middlesbrough are among eight EFL clubs who will be allowed to admit up to 1,000 spectators at games this weekend.

Norwich City fans celebrate after striker Teemu Pukki scores during a Premier League game at Carrow Road in 2019
Image: Norwich City are among eight EFL clubs allowed to admit 1,000 fans this weekend

From the Championship, Norwich's home clash with Preston and Middlesbrough's match versus Bournemouth will both see fans allowed into the ground.

Luton were due to host fans for their Championship fixture against Derby on Saturday, but pulled out, citing a lack of preparation time as the reason.

In League One Charlton vs Doncaster Rovers, Blackpool vs Swindon Town, Shrewsbury vs Northampton and Hull vs Crewe will also see supporters admitted.

Forest Green Rovers vs Bradford City and Carlisle United vs Southend will host fans in the League Two fixtures. Morecambe had been due to host supporters for their match against Cambridge, but also pulled out.

The eight EFL games to host fans

Championship
Norwich City vs Preston North End
Middlesbrough vs AFC Bournemouth

League One
Charlton Athletic vs Doncaster Rovers
Blackpool vs Swindon Town
Shrewsbury Town vs Northampton Town
Hull City vs Crewe Alexandra

League Two
Forest Green Rovers vs Bradford City
Carlisle United vs Southend United

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