Culture secretary reveals exactly what must happen for Portsmouth fans to return to Fratton Park

Pompey fans inside Fratton Park. Picture: Habibur RahmanPompey fans inside Fratton Park. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Pompey fans inside Fratton Park. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has laid out the parameters of what must happen for football fans to return to stadia.

Dowden faced a DCMS Select Committee on Wednesday and was grilled on a number of topics – including Project Big Picture and government support for struggling sporting clubs.

And naturally, the continued absence of supporters from stadia was also a hot topic of discussion.

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It was hoped that fans would be able to return to stadiums in limited numbers from October 1, with a number of successful pilot events held towards the end of September.

But the plans were paused indefinitely after case numbers across the country rose, with fresh restrictions introduced.

Yet there have been questions asked given a number of other spectator events have continued – while sporting events are continuing to be played behind closed doors.

And Dowden has today revealed exactly what must happen before fans can be allowed to return to stadiums.

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‘I desperately wanted socially distanced fans in stadiums from the start of October but we had to pause that because of the rapidly rising rates of infection,’ he told the Select Committee.

‘It's not just the stadium. it is the journey to and from the stadium both on public transport and people being likely to want something to eat or drink on the way.

‘When we get to the point that we have confidence we have the disease under control so that it is not on a rapid upward curve I would rapidly return to this decision.’