10 English Football League matches allowed a crowd this weekend

Ten matches in the English Football League will be played with crowds of up to 1,000 this weekend.

The EFL has confirmed 10 clubs – three in the Championship, four in League One and three in League Two – will be permitted to admit spectators as part of the ongoing ‘return of fans’ pilot programme.

The move follows a successful pilot at Cambridge last week.

The English Football League has underlined the importance of starting to allow fans back into stadiums to help alleviate the “extreme pressure” on clubs’ finances.

Discussions continue between sports governing bodies and government over the return of supporters amid the challenges of Covid-19.

The government had set October 1 as the date that fans could begin to filter back into stadiums at 25 per cent capacity on average, but that is under review after a spike in coronavirus cases nationwide.

EFL head of policy John Nagle on Tuesday said that clubs will make a collective loss of £200million if fans do not return this season, having already been hit by a £50million loss lass term.

And today the EFL said in a statement: “The EFL remains in discussions with the Government about the pilot programme which may include a limited number of further pilot matches during September with a capacity limited to 1,000.

“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 number of fans into grounds safely.

“The EFL will continue its dialogue with DCMS and SGSA to ensure that evidence and insight secured from these events helps to inform the Government’s position on welcoming back supporters post October 1.”

The games concerned are Luton v Derby, Norwich v Preston and Middlesbrough v Bournemouth in the Championship, Charlton v Doncaster, Blackpool v Swindon, Shrewsbury v Northampton and Hull v Crewe in League One and Forest Green v Bradford, Carlisle v Southend and Morecambe v Cambridge in League Two.

The EFL has been anxious to get supporters back into games to protect the financial wellbeing of its clubs.

Games have been played behind closed doors since the new season commenced under Government restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

EFL chair Rick Parry said: “It’s encouraging that we are in a position to move forward with the next phase of the pilot programme and give a small number of our clubs the opportunity to welcome back up to a 1,000 fans this week.”

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