Boris Johnson confirms fan return for Newcastle United, Sunderland and Hartlepool United's final games of 2020-21 campaign including play-offs
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has officially confirmed that football stadiums across England will be allowing fans back from May 17.
In his latest coronavirus briefing outlining the ‘road map’ out of lockdown, the PM stated: “The data now supports the moving to step three in England from 17th May.
“We'll unlock the turnstiles of our sports stadia subject to capacity limits and from next week everyone will be able to travel in Britain and stay overnight.”
This comes as welcome news to sports fans across the country with three of our main north east teams set to welcome fans back for some crucial league and play-off fixtures.
Fans will be welcome back to St. James’s Park for the first time this season for Newcastle United’s Premier League match against Sheffield United on May 19 (6pm kick-off).
The Magpies will also travel to Craven Cottage to face Fulham on the final day of the season on May 23 but only a very small number of fans are expected to be able to attend.
Sunderland fans will be welcome back to the Stadium of Light on May 22 for the second leg of the League One play-off semi-final against Lincoln City.
The first leg at The LNER Stadium will also take place with supporters on May 19.
Hartlepool United will also be welcoming fans back before the end of the 2020-21 season with at least two home matches expected at Victoria Park.
Pools will travel to face Sutton United on May 22 but no away supporters will be allowed to attend. Poolies will return to The Vic on May 29 for the final game of the regular season against Weymouth.
With a play-off place essentially secured, Pools are likely to host one play-off match at Victoria Park in front of supporters.
How many fans will be permitted to attend the matches in question remains unclear – however government guidance stipulates that ‘up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower’ for large outdoor seated venues with a capacity of 16,000 or above such as St. James’s or the Stadium of Light.
For venues where the seated capacity does not exceed 16,000, such as Hartlepool’s Victoria Park, the cap of 50% of the site’s capacity up to a maximum of 4,000 people will apply.