Premier League clubs are bracing themselves for another £100million of losses amid fears that the return of fans may be delayed until November.
Representatives of the major sports met Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden on Wednesday to discuss their aspirations for supporters to attend matches as soon as possible, with a further update expected next week.
The government had initially planned to sanction crowds from October 1, but that date is now in doubt due to rising Covid-19 infection rates and the introduction of the rule of six, with administrators now fearing that a November return is more likely.
Fans watched the pre-season friendly between Brighton and Chelsea as part of a pilot scheme
Premier League clubs would be the worst hit given the size of their crowds, with monthly losses at present estimated at £100m, while a continued shut-out would leave several EFL clubs fearing for their future.
The EFL say their clubs can accommodate crowds at between 25 per cent and 35 per cent of stadium capacity whilst maintaining 1 metre social distancing, and have announced that nine pilot matches with crowds of 1,000 will take place this weekend.
‘There is a mutual understanding of the need to get fans back in, whilst all acknowledging the very significant headwinds we face with the virus,’ Dowden said.
‘I know that many fans are eager to return to football and that jobs depend on this too, so fans will welcome [this] news. This will help us build the evidence base to see how we can return fans safely in greater numbers as soon as it is safe to do so.’
The EFL will continue to stage pilots with up to 1,000 spectators at matches this weekend