Fratton Park: Portsmouth fans set to return to PO4 as Government prepares to ease Covid restrictions
Pompey’s Fratton Park will be allowed to operate at full capacity from July 19.
That’s after the Government this afternoon announced plans to ease remaining Covid restrictions on social distancing.
Fans have either been kept out entirely or allowed in severely restricted numbers since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the UK in March last year.
More than 16,000 were in attendance when the Blues drew 2-2 with Fleetwood on March 10 – Pompey’s last League One game before national lockdown was enforced and the 2019-21 was eventually curtailed.
Two thousand spectators were allowed in for the Blues’ League One games against Peterborough and the Cod Army again respectively last December as the 2020-21 season kicked off behind closed doors, before further lockdown measures were introduced.
However, the Government is confident that the success of the vaccine rollout has helped to break the link between rates of infections and rates of hospitalisation and death due to Covid-19.
A final decision on whether to lift the remaining restrictions in England on July 19 will be taken next Monday, but the intention is for stadiums like Fratton Park to operate at full capacity from that date.
Pompey’s first game back at PO4 with fans in full attendance will be their pre-season friendly against Peterborough on Saturday, July 31.
The visit of Crewe on Saturday, August 14, will represent their maiden league game with spectators presence.
Recent test events have trialled the use of Covid certification – where fans must provide proof of either full vaccination, a recent negative test or existing immunity – but these so-called ‘vaccine passports’ will not now be compulsory for entry.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘We’ll move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus.
‘From step four we will remove all legal limits on the numbers meeting indoors and outdoors.
‘We will allow all businesses to reopen, including nightclubs, we will lift the limit on named visitors to care homes and the numbers of people attending concerts, theatre, and sports events.’
Pompey’s chief commercial officer, Anna Mitchell, told supporters at the recent Tony Goodall Fans’ Conference that the club was looking to covert flexi-season tickets into full season versions as soon as the government gives them the green light to do so.
However, the £10m refurbishment of Fratton Park, which has already begun, will temporarily affect the Blues’ capacity over the next three seasons.