RFL hopeful Wembley can be at least half-full for Challenge Cup final

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer hopes that Wembley will be at least half-full for the Challenge Cup final in July, as Government restrictions on fans attending sport begin to be lifted.

The roadmap out of lockdown in England allowed grassroots outdoor sport to resume on Monday, with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden visiting Warrington to oversee a girls rugby league session, as well as help with the draw for the third round of the Challenge Cup.

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The next planned easing of restrictions on May 17 allows stadia over 40,000 capacity to open with a 25% capacity limit, upto a maximum of 10,000 spectators; while stadia under 40,000 capacity can welcome 50% capacity or 4,000 fans, whichever figure is lower.

It is then hoped that all restrictions on social contact can be lifted on June 21.

Wembley is slated to host seven matches in the football European Championships, including the final on July 11, before the Challenge Cup final on July 17.

Rimmer said: “We would like to think it would be 50 per cent, up and around that. Clearly everything is governed by the R rate.

“I know how much enthusiasm there is to get crowds back. We’ve been speaking to the Secretary of State and he’s talked quite openly of the importance of getting people to those events.”

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A number of Super League and Championship games have already been put back 24-48 hours to Monday May 17, to accommodate the return of fans, with more expected to follow.

Pilot events across a number of sports are due to begin from mid-April, including the World Snooker Championship and FA Cup semi-finals and final, and it is believed the RFL are pushing for rugby league events to be included.

Culture Secretary Dowden added: “They will look at all the different factors associated with hosting events like that, so the journey of people two and from the stadiums, the testing of people before and after to see where the spread risk is, behaviour and ventilation and so on.

“The aim is to get as many people back, and as safely as we can, from June 21.”

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