British culture secretary Oliver Dowden has said the government is looking into whether crowds of more than 10,000 will be able to attend matches at this summer’s rescheduled European Championships.
From May 17th stadiums could be permitted to host as many as 10,000 fans, while from June 21st the current plan is for restrictions to be lifted completely. Pilot events will explore how spectators can return safely in large numbers to stadiums.
The rescheduled Euros, which is due to be played across the continent including at Wembley and the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, begins on June 11th. In the last week the Danish government said they plan to have between 11,000 and 12,000 fans at the four matches held in Copenhagen while the Netherlands is also triallaing a return of supporters ahead of the games they will host in Amsterdam.
With regards the four matches to be held in Ireland it is unclear what the plans are and earlier this month Uefa had to deny reports that Dublin, Bilbao and Glasgow were set to be withdrawn from the plans.
Dowden, British secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, told Sky Sports News: “For the later matches in the tournament, we’ll be looking at substantially more than [10,000], but that is subject to finding a safe way of doing that. I’m very hopeful and optimistic that we will get many, many more people in for the later stage games.”
Sports facilities such as football and cricket pitches, tennis and basketball courts, outdoor swimming pools and golf courses were among those reopening on Monday across England. Some golf courses opened at a minute past midnight, allowing the action to resume immediately under the cover of darkness. Neon golf balls were used at the Morley Hayes course in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, meaning players were able to tee off seconds after the ban was lifted.
Dowden said on Sky Sports News: “I’m absolutely delighted. After this dreadful long winter of Covid, spring is in the air and grassroots sport is returning. We said when we went into these dreadful restrictions that grassroots sport should be the last in and the first out. Today we’re delivering on that and it’s so essential to everyone’s sense of health and wellbeing.”
Further progress towards planned easing of restrictions will depend on targets being met in terms of the prevalence of coronavirus, meaning further delays are possible.
Dowden added: “This is why it’s important people abide by the rules as we go through each stage of this. The reason why we’ve been able to do what we’re seeing today is because people have by and large stuck to the rules so far. It’s important that at each stage people stick to the rules.”