The numbers don't add up for fans' returns to Premier League stadiums

The numbers don’t add up for fans’ returns to stadiums – with many Premier League clubs struggling to reach the maximum limit imposed by the Government

  • There are fears the return of football supporters could turn into a damp squib 
  • Clubs can allow in 10,000 or 25 per cent of their capacity, whichever is fewer 
  • But sides like Fulham, Crystal Palace and Burnley will struggle to meet that figure

Concerns have been raised that the planned return of fans could turn into a damp squib with some clubs battling to get close to the maximum limit set by the Government.

Subject to the further easing of restrictions on May 17, each Premier League side will host a match in front of their own fans before the end of the season. They have been told that they can allow in 10,000 or 25 per cent of capacity, whichever is fewer.

However, those with older, smaller grounds are facing substantial headaches to even ensure that they can get near to those figures.

There are concerns that some clubs will struggle to fit in the number of fans allowed to return

For example Fulham’s stadium Craven Cottage are working towards having 2,000 fans present

Fulham, for example, are currently operating with a capacity of less than 20,000 thanks to the redevelopment of Craven Cottage. 

They would be permitted to host around 5,000 supporters but would need to show safety groups that they can provide ample room for social distancing. 

With that in mind, the club are working towards a figure of 2,000. Currently, access to the stadium can only be obtained via the Johnny Haynes Stand, complicating the matter further.

Similar challenges are being grappled with at Crystal Palace, whose Selhurst Park home accommodates 25,486, and Burnley, where capacity at Turf Moor is 22,546. 

Grounds like Selhurst Park would struggle to reach the figure of 10,000 set by the government

Both grounds are a million miles away from the modern, purpose-built arenas enjoyed by the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City and officials face a headache to get close to the upper limit. 

Clubs have also been told ‘red zone’ restricted areas will have to be removed, which presents challenges. Creative solutions are being sought. Leeds, for example, are hoping to find a way to ensure 8,500 can be present at 37,792-capacity Elland Road.

All of the above adds to the feeling among many that away fans should not be permitted. The Premier League has asked for feedback on the matter and are hopeful that 500 visiting supporters can attend.

However, clubs have aired concerns over the prospect, which many feel is pointless and will cause unnecessary problems. 

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