News, Culture & Society

Premier League clubs can rely on social distancing to keep fans safe in last two games of season

REVEALED: Premier League clubs will not have to use testing and can rely on social distancing to keep 10,000 supporters safe for the final two games of the season, if Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives the go ahead for fans to attend in May

  • Premier League is planning to allow fans to into the last two matches this season
  • Games are not part of the government’s testing programme, sources say
  • Events in April and May are investigating use of Covid tests and passports
  •  But final Premier League games will fall back on social distancing plans

Premier League clubs will not have to use testing or Covid passports to keep up to 10,000 fans safe from coronavirus if they are allowed to return to stadiums for the last two games of the season.

The top flight’s chief executive, Richard Masters, has confirmed the league is preparing to allow fans into grounds for the final two rounds of matches.

Under the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, up to 10,000 supporters – or one quarter of the stadium capacity if it is lower – will be permitted to attend the games, provided scientists are satisfied it is safe to do so.

Premier League clubs are expected to fall back on social distancing to keep fans safe

And there is no requirement for testing fans for coronavirus or demanding they prove their immunity using a Covid passport.

Sportsmail understands the current plan is for the Premier League to fall back on the detailed safety protocols devised in the autumn as football geared up to welcome back supporters in December.

In the end, that return was short-lived with rising infection rates ultimately leading to a strict lockdown, which the country is only now beginning to emerge from.

The safety protocols, devised in partnership with Sports Ground Safety Authority, include measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, entry and exit plans to avoid bottlenecks, and communications strategies to ensure supporters know what is needed to maintain safety.

Protocols were developed in the autumn after test events and out into use in December

Protocols were developed in the autumn after test events and out into use in December

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to declare on May 10 whether the country can proceed to step three of the roadmap out of lockdown from May 17, which allows socially distanced attendances at events of up to 10,000 people.

The final two rounds of Premier League fixtures fall on May 11-12 and May 23, respectively.

However, to maintain a competitive balance and ensure all 20 clubs get to play a home game with fans present, the earlier fixtures may be shifted to May 18-20.

The government has announced a series of pilot events throughout April and May trialling additional measures to keep people safe at sports events, including football.

Clubs are desperate for fans to return after more than a year with almost no spectators

Clubs are desperate for fans to return after more than a year with almost no spectators 

This includes coronavirus testing for 4,000 spectators before and after the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester City and Southampton on April 18 and for the 8,000 people allowed to attend the Carabao Cup final on April 25.

The events programme will culminate in the FA Cup final on May 15, when 21,000 people will have to show a ‘Covid passport’ or Covid certification, to prove they have had a test, a vaccine or they have immunity.

These events will gather evidence that will be used to help maximise attendance at Euro 2020 matches at Wembley and other events in the country’s ‘great summer of sport’, as well as support the return to full stadia next season. But the Premier League matches will not be included.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce on May 10 if fans can return to grounds

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce on May 10 if fans can return to grounds

The findings from the test events may not come soon enough to alter arrangements for the final Premier League games.

Even so, clubs have previously expressed confidence in the plans they already have in place for relatively small attendances.

In line with usual procedures, each club would need to obtain approval for the attendance of supporters at a home game from their local safety advisory group, which is made up of local authorities, including public health and emergency services.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk