Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced spectators could return to sports stadiums in the United Kingdom from October subject to successful pilot events.
Sports events have taken place without crowds in attendance since March because of the risk of spreading coronavirus.
But laying out the next steps in lifting lockdown on Friday morning, Johnson said: ‘’From 1 August, we will restart indoor performance to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots, and we will also pilot larger gatherings in venues like sports stadia, with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn.’’
It raises the possibility that only the first month of the 2020-21 football season will be played out behind closed doors, with supporters allowed back in the autumn.
The pilot events – which would see a limited number of spectators admitted to stadiums with social distancing rules observed – could begin as early as next month.
The potential for fans to return to stadiums will come as a financial lifeline for EFL and non-league football clubs who rely on gate receipts and matchday income for a large proportion of their revenue.