The EFL have announced that ten Clubs will be permitted to admit spectators into Sky Bet League matches this weekend as part of the ongoing ‘return of fans’ pilot programme.
We can confirm that Dale’s League One fixture v Portsmouth on Sunday isn’t one of them and that the match will be played behind-closed-doors.
As you will be aware from our previous communications, there was a possibility that our game against Pompey may have been chosen as a ‘test’ match – and work has been going on behind-the-scenes to ensure we were prepared to welcome crowds back to the Crown Oil Arena should that have been the case. However, we have always been mindful that areas with Covid interventions may be exempt from selection and we received that confirmation from the EFL on Tuesday.
Rochdale currently has the 8th highest rate of infection in the country. We all need to play our part to stop the spread of the disease and hopefully we can see a return of crowds at the Crown Oil Arena at some point in the near future.
Click HERE to read the latest Covid guidance from Rochdale Council.
As per the current guidance, crowds attending the selected ‘test’ fixtures this weekend will be capped at a capacity of 1,000 as discussions continue with the Government about return for supporters’ in greater numbers post October 1, 2020.
The move to extend the programme follows a successful pilot staged at Cambridge United last week when fans were in attendance at a professional football match for the first time since March.
The confirmed games for the weekend of 19/20 September, 2020 are as follows:
Luton Town v Derby County
Norwich City v Preston North End
Middlesbrough v AFC Bournemouth
Charlton Athletic v Doncaster Rovers
Blackpool v Swindon Town
Shrewsbury Town v Northampton Town
Hull City v Crewe Alexandra
Forest Green Rovers v Bradford City
Carlisle United v Southend United
Morecambe v Cambridge United
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.
“The health and well-being of supporters and their wider communities remains the priority, but as we showed at Cambridge, social distancing can be applied safely. By extending across more EFL Clubs we hope to further demonstrate that the measures developed can allow fans to return in greater numbers from as early as next month.
“The requirement to welcome spectators back through turnstiles has not diminished in any way, the financial challenges facing EFL Clubs have been explained on numerous occasions, they are substantial and a problem that requires immediate solutions."
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden said: "I know that many fans are eager to return to football and that jobs depend on this too, so fans will welcome news that the EFL will be running number capped, covid secure, and socially distanced pilots this weekend. This will help us build the evidence base to see how we can return fans safely in greater numbers as soon as it is safe to do so."