Premier League clubs could welcome fans back into stadiums for the new season after a successful trial run at Brighton over the weekend.
2,500 fans were allowed inside the Amex Stadium as Brighton welcomed Chelsea for a pre-season friendly on Saturday afternoon.
Supporters followed a number of Government guidelines including socially distanced seating and wearing masks inside the stadium, while there were also several hand sanitiser stations.
And Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters has heralded the efforts of those at the club to get fans back to games.
He said: “Brighton & Hove Albion did a fantastic job at their test event for the return of supporters and it was great to see fans in a Premier League stadium for the first time since March.
“The success of having 2,500 supporters in the Amex was very encouraging and we are committed to having full stadia as soon as possible, with safety always our priority. We are working hard alongside our clubs, the Government and the safety authorities to achieve this.”
Brighton & Hove Albion Chief Executive Paul Barber said: “We are delighted – it went as well as it possibly could have.
“Credit to our fans – they followed the guidelines, listened to requests from our stewards and, even at the end, when they stayed on to listen to the managers’ pitchside interviews on our stadium screens, they remained in their seats and observed social distancing.”
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said that it was a step in the right direction.
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“I am doing everything I can to get fans back in the stands, following the teams and enjoying the sports they love,” he said. “Sport’s economic health depends on their return to stadiums, too.
“I commend the clubs, players, stewards, emergency services and everyone else for their hard work to get us this far.
“We have blown the starting whistle on fans returning safely, but our work is not done until every fan is back where they belong.”
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