‘We hope it’s a very different situation then’ - hopes for supporters’ return in September

Fans could potentially return to Portman Road in September. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Fans could potentially return to Portman Road in September. Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Rachel Edge

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden believes football supporters may be allowed back into stadiums from September.

Premier League football resumed on Wednesday evening following the suspension of the game in the middle of March, with the Championship returning this weekend and Leagues One and Two ended early, but games between now and the end of campaign at the end of July will be played behind closed doors.

The hope remains that the 2020/21 season will begin at September for all levels of the professional game, at which point Dowden is hopeful a limited number of supporters will be allowed in grounds while observing social distancing measures.

“I would really hope that by the return of the new season we might be in a position whereby some fans could start to return to stadiums.

MORE: Town set for ‘totally different’ pre-season ahead of ‘tentative’ September start“I know that would be another important part of restoring the financial position of clubs.”

While the fact stadiums are ‘outdoor’ venues would likely mean supporters are able to return sooner than for indoor arenas or theatres, clubs are understood to have concerns about how social distancing can be applied in concourse areas and entrances to the ground.

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FA chief executive Mark Bullingham added: “When we look ahead to September, we are hoping we are in a very different situation than we are now as a country, and we hope at some point we can start having crowds back.

“We’re looking at loads of options; we’re even getting people to map out what traffic flows look like in stadia, explore what it could look like with one-metre, two-metre social distancing and so on.”

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While September remains the potential start date for 2020/21, clubs in League One and a greater number in League Two have intimated they would not be happy for the season to begin unless stadiums were opened to full capacity.

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