Football fans up and down the country can rejoice as stadiums are FINALLY open again.
It has been a long time coming and watching football on TV, with a fake crowd noise, just isn’t the same.
There were 21,000 people at Wembley to see Leicester win the FA Cup on Saturday[/caption]
The last year has been tough for us all amid the coronavirus pandemic, but getting back into stadiums feels like some semblance of normality is returning.
The final two rounds of the Premier League season will be played out in front of fans, just as the top four race intensifies.
There were 21,000 people at Wembley for Saturday’s FA Cup final between Leicester and Chelsea as the government used it as a test event, hopefully paving the way for a wider relaxation of restrictions.
It showed just how much we’d missed them. The cheering. The chanting. The booing. The highs. The lows. It all added to the drama of the spectacle.
Unless you were a Chelsea fan, how could you begrudge watching the Leicester players celebrate with their fans after winning the trophy for the first time in their history?
After all, it has been more than a year since Premier League grounds were at full capacity. Nobody knew it at the time but Leicester’s 4-0 win against Aston Villa on Monday 9 March, 2020, was to be the last time a stadium entertained full houses.
The relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions in England came into force on Monday, May 17 meaning people up and down the country can drink inside a pub, go to the theatre and cinema and attend live sporting events.
Football fans were delighted to be back watching live events, with supporters now allowed at stadiums up and down the country[/caption]
How many fans are allowed?
Up to 10,000 people or a quarter of the capacity, whichever is smaller, will be permitted in the largest venues like Wembley.
However, smaller stadiums will be limited to either 4,000 people or half of their capacity, whichever is lower.
The Premier League decided not to allow away fans into the final two matches of the season, though.
Gameweek 37 is being played on Tuesday, May 18 and Wednesday, May 19 while the final day of the season is on Sunday, May 23.
What’s it like to be back?
talkSPORT host Andy Jacobs was at Wembley on Saturday to see his beloved Chelsea lose and despite being disappointed with the result, he was happy to be at a live match.
Jacobs said: “To be there, to be at a match and be able to go to a game was just heaven. It was heaven.
“Even things that really annoy me, like when you travel on the tube to Wembley and the fans get on and starting singing and intimidating all the other passengers, I never really like that, but on Saturday I joined in.”
When were they last in stadiums?
Up to 2,000 fans were allowed at a number of Premier League matches in December, the last time fans were in attendance at top-flight games, before the country was locked down again.
When the second national lockdown ended in December, clubs were allowed to have a limited number of supporters if they were in a tier two area.
The last Premier League game to host fans was Everton vs Chelsea on December 12 – 157 days ago.
Pilot events were also held last month, including at the Carabao Cup final with 2,000 supporters each from Tottenham and Man City allowed to go.
When are full stadiums allowed?
It is hoped that full stadiums will be a thing once all the restrictions end, which is planned for June 21.
The new Premier League season starts on August 14, and league chief Richard Masters was optimistic things would ‘be back to normal’ from that date.
He said earlier this month: “I feel really optimistic we will be full. All the mood music and the messages coming out of Government are positive.
“Safety will always come first and maybe the fan experience will be slightly different. But I’m optimistic.
“That’s our objective and whatever we have to put in place, with our track record, the clubs will step in and do it. Full capacity crowds are the missing ingredient.
“This season has been amazing in so many different ways. I don’t have any fears that next season will be anything but competitive and chaotic, like this one.”
How many fans are allowed at Euro 2020?
The FA have told UEFA that group stage games at Wembley can have up to 25 per cent of the stadium’s capacity – a similar number to the amount of fans at the FA Cup final.
It is hoped for the knockout stages this can be increased to around 50 per cent, as this would come after June 21 – the date when restrictions are set to end in England.
This is not fully set in stone, though, as there is still a chance that June 21 date could be pushed back.