Doncaster Rovers' first away league fixture could be government test event for return of crowds

Doncaster Rovers’ first away match of the season could be designated a pilot event for the return of supporters to grounds, it has been reported.

By Liam Hoden
Saturday, 22nd August 2020, 6:01 pm
Updated Saturday, 22nd August 2020, 6:02 pm

Charlton Athletic are understood to have offered up the fixture at The Valley on September 19 as a test event as part of preparation for when fans are permitted back into stadiums, albeit with reduced capacities.

The club would require government approval to hold the pilot.

It has not been reported whether away fans would be permitted as part of the test but, with travelling supporters expected to be excluded from matches initially, it seems unlikely.

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The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic

A statement from Charlton to the BBC read: “The club is likely to run a test event to allow some fans into The Valley for the first home game against Doncaster on 19 September, with full details to be announced once confirmed.”

There has yet to be any test events at football fixtures in England so far, though pilots have been held at snooker, cricket and horse racing events. It is understood the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will soon designate some football matches as pilot events.

An EFL spokesperson told the BBC: "The EFL continues to work closely with DCMS and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority regarding proposals for pilot events to take place, with all EFL clubs having aspirations to allow the return of fans into stadiums as soon as it is safe to do so.

"As yet, all proposals await approval and therefore no further details can be provided."

Rovers chief executive Gavin Baldwin told the Free Press that clubs have been advised to prepare for the return of supporters in limited numbers from October 1.

Rovers’ first home fixture after that date will see them host Shrewsbury Town on October 10, with the caveat that the match falls on an international weekend and may yet be postponed.

Prior to the return of supporters to grounds, matches are set to be streamed by club websites and made available for free for season ticket holders, according to reports.

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