The UK’s government’s roadmap out of lockdown offers the chance for supporters to return
The Premier League is hoping to allow fans back into stadiums this season for the final two rounds of fixtures, says chief executive Richard Masters.
Matches have largely been played behind closed doors for the past year because of UK government coronavirus restrictions.
However, with those restrictions slowly beginning to ease, Masters is hopeful every club will be able to play in front of their own supporters before the end of the campaign.
A year since the Premier League shutdown
This week marked exactly a year since a Premier League game was played in front of a capacity crowd – Leicester’s 4-0 win against Aston Villa at the King Power Stadium on March 9, 2020.
The competition was postponed shortly afterwards and did not return until June’s Project Restart, with all games behind closed doors.
Restrictions were briefly eased in certain areas of the country in December, meaning some clubs were allowed to play in front of 2,000 socially distanced supporters.
However, another surge in cases saw the country placed in full lockdown again and fans locked out of grounds once more.
When will fans return to Premier League stadiums?
Under the government’s road map out of lockdown, 10,000 supporters or 25 per cent of total capacity – whichever is lower – will be able to return to stadiums from Monday, May 17.
The final round of Premier League matches is scheduled for May 22. So to ensure every team has a home game with fans another round of matches will need to be rescheduled for May 18-20.
That could be matchweek 37, due to take place the previous weekend, or matchweek 36, which is scheduled for May 11 and 12.
Provided cases continued to fall and the vaccination roll-out continues to go as planned, all restrictions are scheduled to be eased by June 21.
Masters is optimistic therefore that stadiums will be back to full capacity in time for the start of next season.
“Hopefully the final two fixtures of our season will have up to 10,000 supporters in them all,” he told premierleague.com.
“We’ve got to go past those first initial steps in the government’s roadmap to get there, so hopefully that will be a fantastic finale to end the season.
“Beyond that, from the beginning of next season, our goal is to have full stadia and the government’s roadmap offers us that opportunity.
“There’s a lot of water to pass under the bridge before that can happen but that’s our ultimate goal: the return of full vibrant Premier League stadia and a return to the normal Premier League.”