Hope for return of Doncaster Rovers fans to Keepmoat with further pilot events to go ahead this weekend

Several EFL fixtures this weekend could have supporters present after the government approved the extension of pilot events.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 5:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 5:06 pm

Clubs were instructed to make requests for matches to be deemed pilot events by Tuesday, in order for fixtures to be granted approval in time.

The pilot events will be restricted to 1,000 spectators, regardless of the size or set-up of the host stadium.

Doncaster Rovers travel to Charlton Athletic this weekend and it seems likely the Addicks will apply for pilot event status, having previously offered up the fixture for such means.

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Keepmoat Stadium

According to the BBC, in a letter to clubs, the EFL's head of policy John Nagle said: "We cannot guarantee at this stage that all clubs that would like to stage a pilot will be given permission to do so, as only a limited number will be approved.

"We are still in discussions with regard to pilot matches on other dates."

The Free Press understands Rovers had previously explored the possibility of next weekend’s clash with Bristol Rovers being used as a pilot event, ahead of the wider return of supporters from October 1.

The announcement that social distancing regulations would be tightened from this week led to a rethink, though they may now return to the plans for the pilot.

An EFL spokesman said: "The League is clear in its view that social distancing can be applied safely in football stadia and that having crowds at matches is an absolutely essential part of helping to protect club finances, which remain under extreme pressure.

"Therefore, the successful delivery of further pilots will be an important step towards getting larger numbers of fans into grounds safely."

The government continues to explore the possibility of stadiums across the country being opened from next month, albeit with reduced capacities.

The number of spectators permitted to enter stadiums will be decided on a case-by-case basis, with the area surrounding grounds assessed. Rovers are confident they would be able operate with a third of the normal capacity, which would be the maximum the government would permit initially.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden will meet with sports bodies this week to discuss the return of fans from October 1.

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