City consult fans over Carrow Road return
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Norwich City have embarked on a consultation process with fan representatives to plan for the return of supporters to Carrow Road - although that came prior to Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing on Friday lunchtime the UK must ‘squeeze the brake’ on a proposed lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
Johnson had previously indicated supporters could be able to return to stadiums in England from October, but a tightening of measures in some parts of northern England announced on Thursday night in a bid to avoid a second coronavirus spike have now been expanded.
A series of planned pilot sporting events, with small numbers of spectators in attendance, has been shelved, with Johnson stating ‘we can’t afford to ignore this evidence’ as he revealed the Covid-19 infection rate had risen in the UK.
Those events had included horse racing at Goodwood, snooker at the Crucible, motor racing at Donington Park and cricket at the Oval.
A statement from the PM read: “It is very disappointing news that with the rise in infection rates we cannot press ahead with sports pilots with fans this weekend. I know the huge efforts cricket, snooker and horse racing have made to welcome fans back. We’ll keep working on their safe return as soon as possible.”
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Football’s governing bodies in this country have been in discussions at government level regarding the potential for fans to return later this year, after the global pandemic forced the Premier League and Championship seasons to resume in empty stadiums.
Among the proposals up for discussion at this exploratory stage by the Canaries were believed to be provisionally allowing an initial 6,000 to 8,000 supporters into Carrow Road later this year, when it is deemed safe to do so on the advice of both government and domestic football authorities.
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Given the huge number of season ticket holders that would require the implementation of a rota system – potentially a season ticket holder allowed access to one in every three home games during this phased period. The expectation would be season ticket holders could sit in the same stand but would not be guaranteed to sit in the same seat due to social distancing measures.
Those season ticket holders who are not permitted to attend a game could be offered a streaming pass to watch the match.
The issue of away supporters and what documentation and checks would be required to gain access are also up for discussion at this stage. Masks and possibly visors would need to be worn for those fans allowed to attend Carrow Road.
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston, speaking prior to the latest measures announced on Friday by the Prime Minister, had cautioned the government will only proceed in letting supporters attend events with strict coronavirus guidelines in place.
“I’m confident that we can find a way to move forward,” he said, speaking to the BBC. “Of course, whether it’s sports stadiums or theatres and all sorts of other things, we’ve seen in other countries there is a way to get full audiences without a vaccine.
“I’m confident that there are measures that can be put in place that can give both those taking part in the sports and spectators confidence that they are going to somewhere safe.”
City’s Championship season will begin on the weekend of September 12.