Manchester United and Manchester City fans have been reacting to the news that supporters could return to stadiums before the end of this season.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed plans to allow spectators back at matches by May 17 as part of the easing of lockdown restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
If all goes according to plan, from that date, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend sporting events at large outdoor venues, or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.
“The turnstiles of our sports stadia will once again rotate,” said Johnson, speaking in the House of Commons on Monday.
It would mean the final round of this season’s Premier League fixtures would be played in front of fans.
The FA Cup final is due to be played on Saturday, May 15, two days before the current restrictions are due to be lifted. Both United and City are still in the competition.
The first priority for the Government is to reopen schools, which could come into effect as early as March 8. From a sporting perspective, outdoor organised sports for adults, such as football, golf and tennis, is expected to be permitted from March 29.
As a result, football fans remain eager to know when they could return to their beloved stadiums, after almost a whole year since their last visit.
Johnson announced last November that supporters would be permitted to return to stadiums as part of a “Covid Winter Plan”.
Areas in Tier 1 and Tier 2 were allowed 4000 and 2000 supporters at home games, respectively, though that soon changed as the country entered Tier 3 restrictions before the latest national lockdown was imposed just after Christmas.
With England set to host several matches during this summer’s European Championships, the FA Cup and Carabao Cup will reportedly be played in front of spectators at Wembley Stadium as ‘test events’ ahead of this summer’s European Championships, according to The Times.
Wembley is set to stage seven matches at the Euros including all three of England’s group games, a last-16 clash, both semi-finals and the final.
The FA said to be hoping around 30-35% of Wembley’s 90,000 capacity will be able to be filled for the summer international fixtures and preparation are said to be underway to accommodate fans.
The FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals are being lined up to have a smaller number of spectators in attendance as pilot events before the tournament, which was the strategy imposed when supporters returned to EFL grounds last year.
There is also the potential for other test events at the national stadium including the play-off finals in the Championship, League One and League Two in May.