Newcastle fans returning for final 2 games this season? There’s good news and bad news
Only 37 days until the Premier League season ends on 23 May 2021 and Newcastle fans still awaiting official confirmation on how the last two rounds of fixtures are going to work, when it comes to supporters being allowed into those matches.
After last month’s (March 2021) meeting of the 20 Premier League clubs, it was revealed that the plan was for there to be both home and away fans allowed into the final two Premier League games of the season.
With the second last round of matches set to be moved from the second last weekend (around Saturday 15 May) to the final midweek (Tuesday 18 May and Wednesday 19 May), to enable all PL clubs to have some fans present at one home match, following the planned Monday 17 May Government date for spectators to be allowed back at the various outdoor sporting venues.
The likely numbers allowed being 10,000 in total, or 25% of capacity, whichever figure is lower. With the rough plan for 10% of available tickets to be given to away supporters.
For Newcastle United, that would mean the final home game against Sheffield United seeing 9,000 NUFC fans allowed and 1,000 Blades supporters. Then the very final game of the season, around 5,400 Fulham supporters and 600 travelling Newcastle fans.
Moving forward to the present day and now the Press Association have reported that as the season’s finale gets ever closer, the above is still the plan. The second last round of matches still set to move to the final midweek AND fans allowed into both of the last two games of the season.
Along with the Press Association update however, The Mail are reporting that travel concerns relating to the virus situation, have led to the away fans part of the plan being dropped. Not exactly the biggest surprise, as the idea of at the very first step of fans returning in such limited numbers, to then have thousands and thousands of away fans criss-crossing the country, many using public / shared transport, doesn’t really fit into this idea of supposedly this being a cautious reopening of people attending matches once again.
There also remains the much talked about possible conditions, with fans potentially needing vaccine ‘passports’ / negative virus tests before being allowed to take up a ticket / seat at one of these final two matches of the season.
These new reports back up what was reported last week after a remote meeting held between the Premier League and safety officers of various PL clubs last week.
A number of clubs were said to be having doubts as to whether a small number of fans returning for the final two games was worth the hassle involved and whether it would be best to give it another three months and wait until the new 2021/22 season.
A lot was especially made at this meeting of the idea of encouraging away fans to travel long distances and that sending out the wrong message whilst we are still in the early stages of lockdown measures being eased.
One official was quoted as saying after the meeting last week about the away fan element of the plan:
“It doesn’t make any sense. If everyone has a home match there is no integrity issue and the logistics will be challenging at best.
“Social distancing may present issues and are we going to ask fans to travel the length of the country in a pandemic?
“Imagine if there was an outbreak related to football.”
Despite the concerns about having fans back at all in May 2021, the compromise was always likely to be the dropping of the away fans element.
The Government are very keen for it to be seen that things are getting back to some kind of ‘normal’ as soon as possible, as part of their easing of restrictions and sport will play a big visible part in that.
Pilot test events at various sporting arenas are going ahead before those final two rounds of Premier League matches, including fans attending both the Carabao Cup final later this month and one of the FA Cup semi-finals.
Obviously we are still waiting on the Premier League to officially confirm (to fans anyway) what will happen with those final two rounds of matches but they will have to do so soon, with clubs and fans needing time to organise themselves for the planned return to matches which are only four weeks or so away.
I wonder if the the compromise will also see the limiting of ticket sales to home fans who live in the local area, to help limit travel as much as possible?
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