Pilots announced for return of spectators to elite sport

Covid-19 News | National | Sport

The Government has announced a further batch of sporting events that will be used to pilot the safe return of spectators, after the Prime Minister confirmed it was safe for the trials to resume.

The events have been selected to test a range of different event styles across the country’s major men’s and women’s spectator sports.

The initial tranche of pilots listed below will take place over the coming weeks, building up throughout September with a view to a full reopening for fans in October.

The pilots will only take place if the latest scientific and medical advice allows for them to proceed in a Covid-secure way, and will be paused again if the advice suggests that conditions in the local area are not met.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said: “I know fans and their teams can’t wait to be reunited in stadia across the country but it’s imperative we take a cautious and phased approach to get fans back in safely. I’m pleased that infection rates have levelled off enough to resume the pilot programme and we will continue to work intensively with sports, medical and health and safety experts towards welcoming more fans back as fast as we can.”

The next phase of test events are expected to include:

Football

29 August, Brighton: Brighton & Hove Albion v TBC (men’s pre-season friendly)

30 August, Lewes: Lewes FC v London Bees (women’s pre-season friendly)

12 September, Dagenham: West Ham v Arsenal (women’s Super League fixture)

27 September, Wembley: Non-League Finals day (FA Vase and FA Trophy), teams TBC

Rugby Union

5 September, Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins v Bath (Premiership fixture)

Horse Racing

9 September, Doncaster: St Leger

21 September, Warwick: Warwick

24 September, Cambridgeshire: Newmarket

Cricket

Late August/Early September, venues TBC: Bob Willis Trophy Games (4 Day) / T20 Blast Group Fixtures

Basketball

18 September, Eagles Community Arena, Newcastle: Pre-season BBL exhibition match

Speedway

26 September, Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich: British final

The pilots will be carefully monitored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Sports Ground Safety Authority to inform future decisions on further relaxations of the rules.

Capacity limits and ticketing processes will vary based on individual venues and events with further pilots to be announced in due course.

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