Why Sheffield United fans could be let in grounds to cheer on Blades against Liverpool and Manchester City
Sheffield United fans may be able to cheer on the Blades – inside the ground – when Chris Wilder’s side face Liverpool and Manchester City in October.
Talks are ongoing between the government and the Premier League over the return of fans to stadia amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Games have been played behind closed doors since March, when the football season was suspended.
The Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) plan to allow around 30 per cent of seats in each ground sold to fans at first, and progressively increase that number. But to have around 30 percent of each arena filled to begin with and eventually ease in more spectators.
That would cut the capacity of Bramall Lane to under 10,000, which will prove problematic considering United had around twice that number of season-ticket holders last season.
The government has previously set a target of October 1 to get fans back into stadiums, with sport minister Nigel Huddleston admitting he was confident that the deadline would be met.
But a series of pilot events – including allowing fans into the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible in the early rounds – were scrapped after a spike in Covid-19 cases.
By that October 1 deadline, United will have played their opening three games of the season. They face Arsenal, Fulham, Liverpool and City in October.
The Community Shield was previously discussed as a possible test event and when Bramall Lane is given the go-ahead to let supporters in again, it will likely be under strict conditions. The number of seats available will be highly limited while other proposals on the table include banning singing and shouting, in an attempt to limit the potential spread of Covid-19.
“There are particular challenges with certain sports,” Huddleston said last month. “People have got to realise if you don’t behave, you won’t have more people in stadiums. They’ve got to take that personal responsibility and realise that if they don’t behave appropriately they’re risking the game for everybody.”