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It would be fair to say that the last 12 months have been somewhat turbulent as far as the world of sport is concerned. In fact, this would be accurate as far as the world, on the whole, is concerned. And while there is still quite a bit of worry and unknown elements regarding sport returning to normal, there are promising signs that things are heading in the right direction.
Fans back in stadiums for 2021? A brief overview
Of course, different parts of the world are in slightly different positions for getting fans back in stadiums, but that’s what we’d like to address right here, by looking at the important facts and figures that will dictate whether this happens or not.
Naturally, we’d all love to see supporters and crowds come back to the stadiums all over Europe and the rest of the world as soon as possible. But we also understand that this needs to be done safely and securely.
The current state of play
To understand how things are looking on this topic, we may as well focus on the nation where football is more of a religion than a sport – the UK. Assuming you follow the Premier League, you’ll be all too aware that fans have been absent from the many stadiums for quite a while now, despite the best efforts from the government and other authorities. On that note, the UK has set a specified deadline on the return of fans to football stadiums for each of the four professional leagues in English football, and it’s been set at May 17th at the earliest. Sure, this date is provisional, but should things continue on their current path, this dream could well become a reality.
And with that said, we’ve already seen 8,000 fans return to Wembley Stadium for the recent cup final between Tottenham and Manchester City. This was allowed thanks to a range of safety measures, but hey, if this was possible, things are looking good going forward. While this is the state of play in the UK, things are also looking very good elsewhere. Take Australia as an example – all fans are back in stadiums for many top sports including football, cricket, and Aussie Rules. Even the USA has allowed reduced capacity for attendance in major leagues like the NBA and NFL.
Important milestones for fans back in stadiums – most popular sports
As we’ve stated above, to have fans back in stadiums we all need to stay patient and understand that this needs to be done safely. After all, as much as we are all desperate to get back watching live football and other sports, we are probably all in agreement that we want this to be done with 100% success – meaning we don’t fall back into empty stadiums and a lack of atmosphere. Therefore, we’d like to take a moment to look at the kind of milestones required to see supporters and crowds back and cheering for their teams for some of the UK’s main sports.
Compared with the other sports mentioned here, football is looking like one of the most promising of them all to get fans back. In fact, it’s already happened, following the 8,000 fan trial run at Wembley recently. And we must say, there have been no reports that this event has had any negative implications since. To add to that, from May 17th fans can operate at up to 25% capacity in the UK. But while that’s great, this is pretty much the end of the football season, so live-action may not come until the Euro’s or the following season in August.
As far as tennis in the UK is concerned, all eyes are on Wimbledon – scheduled to take place on the usual dates at the end of June / early July. You may remember that Wimbledon was, in fact, entirely cancelled last year, so getting fans back in stadiums for this one would be a massive victory. But much like football, it’s not going to be a Wimbledon as we all might know it. There will be no queues for tickets, stadiums won’t be operating at full capacity, and safety measures will still remain in place.
Rugby is another sport that is adored all around the UK, and fans haven’t actually been allowed to watch a live game since March of 2020. Of course, this means that supports have been out of stadiums for longer than a year, so it’s fair to say that the appetite is well and truly there for a return to live supporters at rugby games. Rugby will actually coincide with football concerning when fans can be back, as from May 17th, stadiums can have up to 4,000 fans in attendance, and more prestigious games may even have 10,000 spectators, although this is yet to be confirmed.
Important government announcements – UK
Needless to say, fans won’t be back in stadiums before the nod is given by higher authorities – mainly the UK government. That’s why we’d like to finally focus on a couple of the announcements over the last few weeks.
This has officially been announced by the government as the main date on which fans can make a return to live sport. To recap, as of May 17th, football stadiums will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity or up to 10,000 spectators. This is a similar story for all outdoor sporting venues as it happens, and if things go well, hopefully, we will see more and more fans be allowed in over the coming months.
This is a big one, as it’s still a little up in the air, despite the obvious prestige of the tournament itself. The tournament is due to kick off in early June, which is just before the June 21st deadline set out by the UK government for a full return to normality. Should they stick to this schedule, we could witness a full capacity Wembley for England’s opening game, and let’s be honest – this would really be a signal that sport in England is over the worst! The fate of the other Euro 2021 stadiums may vary by country.
Of course, all of this is still hanging on a knife-edge, but we are certainly hopeful of a return from football fans before we know it.
Crystal PalaceSelhurst Park
Swansea CityLiberty Stadium
Swindon TownEnergy Check County Ground