FA Cup: One semi-final to serve as pilot event for return of large crowds

One of next month’s FA Cup semi-finals will serve as a pilot event to test the return of large crowds at sporting events, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said.

As Britain continues to ease its way out of a coronavirus-enforced lockdown, plans are being put together for how supporters can be welcomed back to stadia across the country in the coming months, and Dowden told the BBC that one of April’s FA Cup semi-final fixtures would play a key role in that process.

Chelsea take on Manchester City on 17 April before Leicester City face Southampton on 18 April, with both matches taking place at Wembley Stadium in London.

The FA Cup final, scheduled for 15 May at the same venue, is also set to be a pilot event, Dowden said, as are the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on 25 April and the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield. That tournament is due to run from 17 April to 3 May.

The BBC reported that 4,000 fans are likely to be present at the 90,000-capacity Wembley for the FA Cup semi-final that ends up being used as a pilot event, with double that number of supporters potentially attending the Carabao Cup final. As many as 20,000 fans could enter Wembley for the FA Cup final, though approval from Brent council would be needed following ongoing talks between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Football Association.


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