Premier League clubs have reportedly been told to prepare for up to 500 away fans for the last two rounds of matches this season.
According to Sportsmail, the Public Health England signed off on the principle of away fans at fixtures this term, on Thursday, April 29.
The news marks a victory for the Premier League, which has been working to secure the green light to have fans back in stadiums after a ban because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, clubs are already preparing to allow up to 10,000 fans to return to stadiums – or 25 percent of the capacity.
The report also said the Premier League is planning to delay the penultimate round of matches in order to allow supporters to be present so that every club can play one home game in front of their own fans.
As a result, the 37th round of fixtures will now be played on May 18 and 19, the day after the third stage of the government’s covid road map is scheduled to start. And the final round takes place on Sunday, May 23.
For every game, a Safety Advisory Group (SAG), which includes representatives of the club, emergency services for the area, and the local council, must approve the plans for the match, including the attendance of away supporters.
A source told Sportsmail that in reality, the number of away supporters in attendance at matches would be ‘piecemeal’ across the country, as SAGs are likely to take a different view in different areas.
In the letter Masters has sent to the clubs, which has been seen by The Times, he states: ‘The return of fans and ultimately full stadiums remains our primary goal, therefore our view is that we must accept the opportunity to host as wide a range of supporters as possible.
‘That being the case, the Executive proposes an away ticket allocation of 5 percent of available capacity (a maximum of 500 away fans) at round 37 and 38 matches, respecting the £30 away ticket price cap.’
‘This policy is designed to accommodate away supporters, maximise home fan numbers and reduce the likelihood of SAG resistance,’ says the letter.’
Fan groups have welcomed the latest development. ‘Away fans are vital to the atmosphere at football matches,’ said Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Association. ‘And fans have been craving away trips during lockdown.’