Ten football matches across England will allow 1,000 fans in this weekend – despite coronavirus lockdown measures increasing across the country.

The English Football League have announced 10 teams, including three in the second-tier Championship at Norwich, Middlesbrough and Luton, have permission to host pilot events for the return of fans.

The news comes as part of the government’s plans to allow increasing numbers of spectators into the return of sports’ crowds – although it appears to be at odds with the country-wide crackdown on the ‘rule of six’.

Carrow Road in Norwich is one of 10 EFL venues that will host pilot events this Saturday in which a maximum of 1,000 spectators will be admitted

Carrow Road in Norwich is one of 10 EFL venues that will host pilot events this Saturday in which a maximum of 1,000 spectators will be admitted

Carrow Road in Norwich is one of 10 EFL venues that will host pilot events this Saturday in which a maximum of 1,000 spectators will be admitted

The latest pilot events follow a successful trial at Cambridge's Abbey Stadium last week

The latest pilot events follow a successful trial at Cambridge's Abbey Stadium last week

The latest pilot events follow a successful trial at Cambridge’s Abbey Stadium last week

Three games have been picked in the Sky Bet Championship – Luton Town vs Derby County at Kenilworth Road, Norwich City vs Preston North End at Carrow Road and Middlesbrough vs Bournemouth at the Riverside Stadium.

The League One matches at Charlton, Blackpool, Shrewsbury Town and Hull City, plus the League Two games at Forest Green Rovers, Carlisle United and Morecambe, have also been selected.

Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium will welcome crowds for the first time since March

Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium will welcome crowds for the first time since March

Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium will welcome crowds for the first time since March

1,000 spectators will be allowed at Kenilworth Road in Luton for their game against Derby

1,000 spectators will be allowed at Kenilworth Road in Luton for their game against Derby

1,000 spectators will be allowed at Kenilworth Road in Luton for their game against Derby

EFL Pilot matches 

Saturday 3pm unless stated 

Championship

Luton Town v Derby County

Norwich City v Preston North End

Middlesbrough v AFC Bournemouth

League One

Blackpool v Swindon Town

Charlton Athletic v Doncaster Rovers

Shrewsbury v Northampton 

Hull City v Crewe Alexandra

League Two

Forest Green Rovers v Bradford City

Carlisle v Southend (1pm)

Morecambe v Cambridge United

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These 10 games will be the first in the EFL since March to admit fans. 

862 fans attended the EFL Trophy game at Cambridge last week and were required to socially distance in the stands. 

The venues have been chosen because they are located in areas not currently subject to coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

But the announcement is at odds with this week’s Government restrictions, which prohibit gatherings of more than six people.  

EFL chairman, Rick Parry said: ‘It’s encouraging that we are in a position to move forward with the next phase of the pilot programme and give a small number of our Clubs the opportunity to welcome back up to a 1,000 fans this week.

‘The health and well-being of supporters and their wider communities remains the priority, but as we showed at Cambridge, social distancing can be applied safely.

‘By extending across more EFL Clubs we hope to further demonstrate that the measures developed can allow fans to return in greater numbers from as early as next month.

‘The requirement to welcome spectators back through turnstiles has not diminished in any way, the financial challenges facing EFL Clubs have been explained on numerous occasions, they are substantial and a problem that requires immediate solutions.’

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden said: ‘I know that many fans are eager to return to football and that jobs depend on this too, so fans will welcome news that the EFL will be running number capped, covid secure, and socially distanced pilots this weekend.

‘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.’ 

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