The Premier League has decided not to allow away supporters into matches when the long-awaited return of fans begins this month. Up to 10,000 supporters are expected to be allowed to attend matches from 17 May, provided Step 3 of the government’s planned easing goes ahead as anticipated.
The league has confirmed that the final two match days of the season will be moved beyond this date, and that each club will host one game, but that only home supporters will be able to attend.
Game 37 is due to be played on Tuesday 18 May and Wednesday 19 May, with the final fixtures on Sunday 23 May at 4pm.
“Following consultation with clubs, it was agreed matches would not be open to away supporters due to varying operational challenges across the league and the need to deliver a consistent approach, while maximising the opportunity for home-fan attendance,” the league said in a statement.
Including away fans in socially distanced live events provides much greater logistical challenges for clubs, especially around stewarding in and around the stadium, but also with regards to transportation.
With the government suggesting an end to most Covid measures by the summer, should the current success of the vaccination programme continue, there is an expectation across football that a normal match-day experience should be possible by the following season in August.
“Fans have been greatly missed at Premier League matches and this marks a key step towards full stadiums, including away fans, from the start of the 2021-22 season,” the league said.
The league also confirmed it would again sync its transfer window with the rest of Europe after a brief attempt to go it alone. Last summer clubs had to complete their business by the first game of the season (albeit with a further window for domestic activity).
This summer the window will run for 12 weeks from 9 June and will close at the same time as the rest of the continent at 11pm BST on 31 August. The 2021-22 season is set to begin on 14 August.