Tottenham and Manchester City will be given 2,000 tickets each for the Carabao Cup final at Wembley this month, the Football League has announced, but City fans face having to use special Covid-secure transport if they want to attend.
Supporters from both teams will also have to prove they are free from Covid – probably via a certificate showing they have had a vaccination, negative test, or have immunity – and also face being put in a bubble outside Wembley stadium.
The match on 25 April is being used as a pilot event to test the return of big crowds, with the government hoping to gradually increase the numbers towards full capacity during the spring and early summer.
However Trevor Birch, the chief executive of the Football League, admitted that several issues were up in air for the Carabao Cup final – including whether supporters would be allowed to sing or be required to wear masks.
“Covid-safe transport is being discussed,” said Birch. “Unfortunately, I can’t go into the details because it is still in train. It’s obviously quite a complicated process. There are a lot of stakeholders involved in the discussions.”
In total 8,000 fans will be allowed to watch the game, with other tickets given to local residents in Brent and NHS staff. Birch said he “imagined” that fans would be put into bubbles, and not allowed to mix in the 90,000-seat stadium, but could not yet be sure. “All will be revealed in the next week or so, in terms of the dos and don’ts,” he added.
Football League clubs have lost about £250m of revenue over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons and Birch stressed it was vital for their finances that they had full attendance at grounds for the new season in August.
However he said that clubs might have to restrict those fans who not had the vaccine, were clinically extremely vulnerable or pregnant. “It is all in the mix again for next season,” he added. “Hopefully the Covid certification will deal with much of it. But it almost changes on a daily basis and it is incredibly difficult to be certain about what procedures will apply.”
Meanwhile a capacity crowd is expected to be able to attend the final of the 2021 World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in May, organisers have confirmed.
The event in Sheffield, which begins next week, will be the first sporting competition included in a pilot programme to enable the return of mass gatherings as lockdown restrictions ease in England.
Organisers confirmed that capacity at the Crucible Theatre would be at 33% for the first round, from 17-21 April, with fans required to wear masks and social distancing measures in place.
However World Snooker said that the number of spectators would be gradually increased from 50% for second-round matches and 75% for the quarter- and semi-finals, and that a full-capacity crowd of 980 people would be there for the final.
Under the pilot scheme, no one under 18, adults deemed clinically extremely vulnerable or pregnant women will be allowed to attend.
Spectators will also have to take a Covid-19 test before they arrive, and must show confirmation of a negative result to enter the venue, as well as having another five days afterwards at home.