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‘Open the turnstiles’: UK PM Johnson gives green light for 10,000 fans to return at Premier League games

‘Open the turnstiles’: UK PM Johnson gives green light for 10,000 fans to return at Premier League games
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that football fans will be able to attend games again from next week onwards, with anything up to 10,000 home supporters allowed to watch their teams.

Johnson confirmed the move in a press conference on Monday afternoon.

During his opening speech, which laid down the details of the further easing of lockdown restrictions across England, the PM confirmed that his government would "unlock the turnstiles of our sports stadia subject to capacity limits".

This means that from next Monday, May 17, large seated outdoor stadiums will be allowed to accept up to 10,000 punters while smaller venues are to be capped at 4,000 or 50%, depending on which amount is the lowest.

The UK government will allow larger crowds from June 21 onwards, with the Euro 2020 tournament on the horizon. 

Last month, an FA Cup semifinal clash between Leicester and Southampton was Britain's first outdoor sports event since the pandemic to welcome back punters, but only residents of the Wembley area and key workers were granted access.

The following weekend, 2,000 fans who bought tickets enjoyed the Carabao Cup final contested by Manchester City and Tottenham, and the biggest test yet will be when more than 10 times that amount see Chelsea take on Leicester in the FA Cup equivalent on Saturday.

In comments made last week, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters confirmed that only home supporters will be able to attend matches for the rest of the 2020/2021 campaign but said it will still "be brilliant to see fans back".

"They have been hugely missed and the Premier League has not been the same without them. Their presence will ensure a fantastic finale to the end of our season," Masters added.

"Although only a small number of home fans will be at our matches next week, this is an important step in our return to normality," he concluded.

All Premier League teams will benefit from the step as they each have one home game and one away game remaining in the final two rounds of the season. 

Elsewhere, the UK government is pushing for the Champions League final to be held at Wembley too.

As an all-English affair that pits Manchester City against Chelsea, a special exception to admit 25,000 fans would be made, though Lisbon is providing stiff competition as an alternative venue to Istanbul with Turkey on the UK's red list. 

"It would be brilliant to host [the final] here if we can," Johnson said at the weekend, adding that "with two English teams in the final, it would be a great shame if fans were unable to attend"

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