Stadiums prepare to welcome back fans as restrictions are lifted

Reading FC are using Wednesday's friendly with West Ham as a test event while Gillingham FC are dealing with a Covid outbreak. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Football clubs in across the Meridian region are busy preparing for the new season and the return of fans.

At the beginning of the month, the government said stadiums could return to full capacity and while some clubs are already announcing capacity crowds others are taking a cautious approach.

The headline on Southampton Football Club's website, says that St Mary's to be at full capacity for this season. And goes on to say they're delighted to confirm they'll be able to safely welcome back fans and other sporting events are paving the way.

Colin Morikawa basks in his victory at the Open Championship in Sandwich. Credit: PA Images

Yesterday we saw thirty two thousand spectators at Golf's Open Championship in Sandwich. The roars that greeted Colin Morikawa's win were just like those pre-pandemic.

But the Premier League and the Football League say they're continuing to monitor the situation. And there has been talk that fans may need Covid certificates to gain entry to stadiums.

At Gillingham Football Club they're currently dealing with a Covid outbreak. With four or five players testing positive and several staff members. Leading to all the team self isolating.

But the chairman says he thinks this will be the new normal that clubs have to get used to. And says the return of fans is massively important for the financial well-being of the club. 

  • Paul Scally, Gillingham FC Chairman

He said: "We've probably lost over two million pounds, closer to three million pounds in the last sixteen months and that's a big hit for a business like ours"

At Reading Football Club they're using Wednesday night's friendly with West Ham as a Test event.

It means a maximum of six thousand fans are allowed. But when the Football League season starts in three weeks time they're planning for their capacity twenty four thousand.

  • David Parker, Safety Officer of Reading FC

David Parker, the Safety Officer for the Royals said: "Clearly we encourage people to get the Covid jab if they've not already had it".

"At the ground itself, all of the staff will be wearing face coverings unless medically exempt. There will also be additional sanitiser around the ground".

So some things will be different. But it looks like the roar of the crowd is coming back next month