Prime Minster says sporting crowds could return by October

Crowds could be able to return to sports stadiums in England in October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

Mass gatherings at sports grounds have been banned since March as part of social distancing measures brought in to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

But as Johnson set out the next stage of the recovery road map, he said the government were working towards crowds returning after some test events.

Cardboard cut-outs of supporters at Elland Road, Leeds
Cardboard cut-outs of supporters at Elland Road, Leeds (Martin Rickett/PA)

“We will pilot larger gatherings in venues such as sports stadia with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn,” he said at a Downing Street briefing.

“All of these measures, for August 1, should be done in a Covid secure way.

“From October we intend to bring back audiences in stadia and allow conferences and other business events to recommence, again these changes must be done in a Covid-secure way subject to the successful outcome of pilots.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has previously said top-flight clubs are keen to act as “test pilots” for any experiments around a phased reopening of stadiums.

He has said that football will not be “back with a capital B” until crowds return.

Depending on how many fans are allowed back, it could be a major boost to the finances of clubs across all sports, particularly in the English Football League who rely heavily on matchday revenue.

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