EFL pilot permits 1,000 fans with next 48 hours 'critical' if Portsmouth supporters are to head back to Fratton Park next month

EFL clubs have been given the green light to stage pilot events this weekend, with up to 1,000 fans permitted to attend matches.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 5:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 5:22 pm
Pompey fans. Picture: Joe Pepler

Clubs who wish to have spectators at games had to submit their requests by Tuesday (today) for plans to be signed off.

However, those in local lockdown areas have been told they will not be given permission to stage the test events.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden MP, will meet with sporting bodies this week to discuss the planned return of spectators to elite sport fixtures from October 1 at 25-per-cent capacity on average.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Pompey travel to Rochdale on Sunday, although the Spotland outfit have not confirmed whether they’ve requested for fans to attend the game.

However, League One rivals Shrewsbury have lodged an application for their clash with Northampton on Saturday.

And EFL spokesman said: ‘The EFL remains in discussions with the government about the pilot programme which may include a limited number of further pilot matches during September with capacity limited to 1,000.

‘The league is clear in its view that social distancing can be applied safely in football stadia and that having crowds at matches is an absolutely essential part of helping to protect club finances, which remain under extreme pressure.

‘Therefore, the successful delivery of further pilots will be an important step towards getting larger number of fans into grounds safely.’

Fans have not been able to attend matches since March when the country went into lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last season finished behind closed doors and that’s how the 2020-21 campaign has started.

In a letter to all 72 EFL clubs, head of policy John Nagle said the next 48 hours will be critical if fans are to return next month.

He said: ‘We now understand that the next 48 hours are likely to be critical in terms of determining the direction of travel on this issue.

‘Amongst other things, this will include a meeting between the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden MP and senior administrators from across sport, which will be attended by EFL chairman Rick Parry.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

Thank you for reading this story. The News has launched a new subscription offer which gives you unlimited access to all of our Pompey coverage.

Every subscription helps us continue providing trusted, local journalism on your behalf for our city.