English Football League (EFL) have announced seven matches from across this weekend’s Sky Bet Championship plus Leagues One and Two will be permitted spectators, as part of a pilot scheme to return fans to stadiums.
Three matches from the Championship plus League Two had been initially selected whilst League One had been allowed four matches with fans in attendance, although spectator limits have been capped at 1,000 due to on-going discussions with UK Government.
Following the announcement of chosen matches, Luton and Morecambe however withdrew their respective Championship and League Two home matches against Derby and Cambridge United from selection.
Hull City followed a day later when Hull City Council pulled the plug on their match against Crewe Alexandra having fans in attendance, due to rising rate of Coronavirus within the local community.
It is hoped that an agreement can be reached to allow for fans to return in greater numbers from October onwards
Speaking on the decision to progress with their pilot programme after a successful test at Cambridge United last weekend, EFL Chairman – Rick Parry said; “It’s encouraging that we are in a position to move forward with the next phrase of the pilot programme and give a small number of our Clubs the opportunity to welcome back up to a 1,000 fans this week
“The health and well-being of supporters and their wider communities remains the priority, but as we showed at Cambridge, social distancing can be applied safely. By extending across more EFL Clubs we hope to further demonstrate that the measures developed can allow fans to return in greater numbers from as early as next month.”
Secretary for State of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden has welcomed the extension of the capped number pilot scheme, saying; “I know that many fans are eager to return to football and that jobs depend on this too, so fans will welcome news that the EFL will be running numbers capped, Covid secure and socially distanced pilots this weekend.”
Dowden however iterated that this extension is designed to “… help us build the evidence base to see how we can return fans safely in greater numbers as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Here are the chosen matches from across all three EFL divisions which are permitted to welcome up to 1,000 fans into stadiums across weekend of 19-20 September.
Norwich City v Preston North End
Middlesbrough v Bournemouth
Blackpool v Swindon
Charlton v Doncaster Rovers
Shrewsbury Town v Northampton Town
Forest Green Rovers v Bradford City
Carlisle United v Southend United