Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals set to provide test events as Wembley aims to ‘open up to 35,000 fans this summer’… but supporters’ hopes for return to Premier League grounds this season ‘have all but been ruled out’
- Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals expected to be at a third of Wembley capacity
- Stadium needs to hold two test events ahead of hosting Euro 2020 games
- Fans may have to undergo ‘instant result’ lateral flow tests to get into the ground
- Vaccine passports are not expected to be introduced on discrimination grounds
- There is only a slight possibility Premier League matches could pilot test events
Football fans could reportedly make their return to stadiums before the end of the season with the Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals being lined up as test events.
The plans being put in place are set to provide the government with useful information on relaxing spectator rules ahead of the summer’s big sporting events including Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix, the Open, England cricket matches and big racing events.
According to the Times, the two cup finals at Wembley are ideal settings to allow a small number of fans to attend.
Football fans could make their return to stadiums in major cup finals at the end of the season
The stadium also needs to host two test events to prove it can hold spectators safely ahead of the seven matches it is set to host for the European Championship this summer.
Euro 2020 games are set to only hold around 30-35 per cent of the 90,000 Wembley capacity with only supporters from the UK largely expected to attend.
Confidence for the relaxation of the rules comes following the positive launch of the vaccination programme which has seen 15million people receive their first Covid-19 jabs.
The Sports Technology and Innovations Group (STIG) will be tasked with getting spectators back into grounds as safely as possible once the government have released their plans on how to exit lockdown next week.
Wembley is set to host the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals at a reduced capacity
The report states that fans could potentially be asked to use the almost-instant lateral flow tests that would have to show a negative coronavirus reading before being allowed into the stadium.
Current proposals being lined up for the return of fans are reportedly gaining confidence.
‘There are things to work on, such as avoiding any queues, sending tickets out in advance and lateral flow testing and, of course, finding out the numbers that can attend, but there is confidence it can be achieved,’ a Times source said.
The Carabao Cup final between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City on April 25 is expected to be the first test event, with the FA Cup final three weeks later on May 15 to be the second. The Football League play-off finals are also being considered.
A maximum of 2,000 fans were allowed to attend matches in early December, including Tottenham’s north London derby clash against Arsenal at White Hart Lane
However hopes for fans to return for the end of the Premier League and EFL season appear to have been ruled out according to the report, with only a small possibility a few matches could be used as piloted test events.
Early weeks of December saw grounds open up to a maximum of 2,000 spectators but this was immediately nullified by the introduction of tier systems to tackle the pandemic followed by another national lockdown.
The potential introduction of the controversial vaccination passports is also looking less likely, due to how it could discriminate against fans that lack them.