Prime Minister says fans could return to stadiums in October

Fans could be back for as many as eight Super League rounds, following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Friday.

Boris Johnson said that, subject to successful pilot events, fans will be allowed to return to stadiums in October.

The Super League fixture list, announced last week, has eight rounds scheduled from October 8th through to November 13th, after which there will be the play-off semi-finals and the Grand Final.

The re-scheduled Challenge Cup final is also slated for October 17, giving hope that fans will be able to attend.

The revised fixture list had been back-loaded with the hope that crowds could return, giving clubs the opportunity to earn some much-needed revenue.

 

Johnson said: “We will pilot larger gatherings in venues like sports stadiums with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn.

“From October, we intend to bring back audiences in stadiums.

“Again, these changes must be done in a Covid-secure way, subject to the successful outcome of pilots.”

The pilot events will be two men’s county cricket friendly matches at The Oval on 26-27 July, the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible from July 31 and the Goodwood horse racing festival on August 1.

The Government has said there will be other pilot projects in other sports, although there has been no confirmation whether this will include Super League, which restarts on August 2.

The guidelines for enabling a return will be that fans agree to a new code of behaviour, that includes not attending if they potentially have symptoms or have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Social distancing must be observed, there must be crowd management plans in place such as one-way systems, the installation of additional hygiene facilities and screening procedures at stadium entrances.

An October return for fans may prove too late to save the 2020 Championship and League 1 seasons – with a decision expected next week on whether they will return to action this year.

The five lower league clubs still in the Challenge Cup – Featherstone, Newcastle, Sheffield, Widnes and York – have been given until the end of July to confirm their participation in the competition.

It was announced on Friday that the last 16 games will take place on the weekend of August 22-23.

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