According to city officials, this means there could be more than a month’s worth of football, at least, played at the Stadium of Light behind closed doors.
But while COVID-19 restrictions may mean spectators are barred, dozens of others will be allowed into the ground for ties – not least the players themselves.
Sunderland City Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee met to renew the club’s safety certificate for the 2020/21 season and was told who would be permitted to attend games before rules are relaxed.
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:: The players
:: Management and support staff
:: Referees and other match officials
:: Essential employees, such as cleaners, security and ground staff
:: ‘Blue light services’, such as police and paramedics
:: Accredited media
Representatives of other public bodies, such as the Sports Ground Safety Authority and local authority, will also be able to attend if needed.
Current government plans anticipate beginning to allow some fans back into football grounds from October, although at the Stadium of Light this is likely to fall far short of the maximum 48,339 capacity allowed under the terms of the ground’s safety certificate.
According to the English Football League this is due to kick-off the weekend of September 12 and finish by May 9.