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Three Championship games will host 1,000 fans each this weekend

‘Can’t meet my family but a thousand of us can rock up to a football match!’: The return of fans is slammed online as government gives green light to 10 clubs to open doors to ONE THOUSAND supporters this week – despite Rule of Six

  • 10 EFL matches have been selected as pilot events this weekend
  • 1,000 spectators will be admitted at each fixture as crowds return to games
  • It will be the first time since March that fans have been allowed at EFL fixtures
  • Pilot events are continuing despite the Government’s latest restrictions
  • Gatherings in groups of over six have been banned to combat rising infections 

Furious Britons have slammed the government for allowing crowds of 1,000 fans into ten football stadiums this weekend – despite the Rule of Six banning friends and families from meeting up. 

Ministers have repeatedly warned that more draconian measures are on the way if coronavirus infection rates continue to rise despite the new restrictions on gatherings, with curfews and school and pub closures expected within a fortnight. 

The situation has worsened in recent days with Britain’s daily testing capacity plummeting and parents, carers and workers complaining that they are unable to get tests – forcing them to self-isolate. 

Today, Boris Johnson blamed a ‘huge, huge’ surge in demand for the chaos that has left millions of people struggling to get checked after Health Secretary Matt Hancock conceded that the government will have to create a ‘priority list’ to make sure hospitals and care homes get essential screening.

Despite boasting of ‘Moonshot’ plans to carry out 10million tests a day, the government’s decision to prioritise who gets a test raises the prospect of schools being left in limbo, with many warning they are already struggling to stay open because so many children have cold or cough symptoms. 

Now, despite the testing chaos and mounting anger at the rule of six, the government has decided that ten football matches across England can let 1,000 fans into stadiums this weekend as part of a pilot. 

In another day of coronavirus chaos: 

  • Britons ‘face 10pm curfews and pubs could be forced to shut in just two weeks’ unless Rule of Six brings down Covid cases;
  • South Wales valleys will be put into local lockdown from 6pm on Thursday after rise in Covid cases; 
  • The Archbishop Bishop of Canterbury has said he is ‘deeply concerned’ about the impact of social distancing on family life in the run-up to Christmas;
  • There are claims the government is scaling back on advertising for coronavirus tests in a bid to reduce demand;
  • England, Scotland and Northern Ireland announce 14 more Covid-19 deaths in early count while no more are recorded in Wales;
  • NHS hospital in Bolton begs patients seeking Covid-19 tests stay at home ‘after 100 people turned up at A&E’ amid ongoing fiasco as expert claims England’s swabbing capacity was reached three weeks ago;
  • Parents, carers and workers ask why their local testing centres are empty while they struggle to book online – as ministers say ‘one in four people’ getting a test don’t even need them. 

Carrow Road in Norwich is one of 10 EFL venues that will host pilot events this Saturday in which a maximum of 1,000 spectators will be admitted

The latest pilot events follow a successful trial at Cambridge's Abbey Stadium last week

The latest pilot events follow a successful trial at Cambridge’s Abbey Stadium last week

Three games have been picked in the Sky Bet Championship – Luton Town vs Derby County at Kenilworth Road, Norwich City vs Preston North End at Carrow Road and Middlesbrough vs Bournemouth at the Riverside Stadium.

The League One matches at Charlton, Blackpool, Shrewsbury Town and Hull City, plus the League Two games at Forest Green Rovers, Carlisle United and Morecambe, have also been selected.

EFL Pilot matches 

Saturday 3pm unless stated 


Luton Town v Derby County

Norwich City v Preston North End

Middlesbrough v AFC Bournemouth

League One

Blackpool v Swindon Town

Charlton Athletic v Doncaster Rovers

Shrewsbury v Northampton 

Hull City v Crewe Alexandra

League Two

Forest Green Rovers v Bradford City

Carlisle v Southend (1pm)

Morecambe v Cambridge United

These 10 games will be the first in the three EFL divisions since March to admit fans. 

However, the move has triggered fury on social media, with angry Britons questioning government priority amid the chaos over testing.  

Malcolm Wood wrote on Twitter: ‘You can’t be together in no more than six, so let’s go to the footy. Where is the joined up thinking!!!’

Twitter user WWmick wrote: ‘England and Scotland have reduced the number of people allowed to meet socially to six. So I cannot meet with family yet EFL can allow a group of 1000. How is this sane or fair?’

A Twitter user called Caitlin said: ‘The rule of SIX they said. Can’t meet up with my family but a thousand of us can rock up to a football match. Get a f***ing grip. What utter b*******.’

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder also expressed his bemusement that fans were being allowed back into stadiums amid the continued lockdown.

He said: ‘I just don’t know where we are with it all, I’ve got to say. I haven’t got a clue.

‘Am I allowed to see my nan? Am I allowed to see my mum? But then we can have 1,000 people in a ground but then we can’t have 15,000 and then I can’t go and have a pint with my mates unless there’s only six of us.

‘So I’ve got to say I’m like the majority of people in this country have not got a clue what’s going off… haven’t got a clue.

Fans reacted with anger and bewilderment at the decision to allow 1,000 fans in to the games

Fans reacted with anger and bewilderment at the decision to allow 1,000 fans in to the games

Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium will welcome crowds for the first time since March

Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium will welcome crowds for the first time since March

‘If anybody can help me. I’ll try and affect that game of football and with the staff and boys in getting a result but everything else, all that other stuff, I ain’t got a clue.’ 

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden said: ‘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 number capped, covid secure, and socially distanced pilots this weekend.

‘This will 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.’ 


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