September 22, 2020 10.28 am This story is over 38 months old

Plans derailed as football fans’ return to stadiums axed

An indefinite wait for Imps fans

A phased return of fans in stadiums for sporting events next month will be cancelled due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Sports pilot events to allow reduced capacity inside stadiums started across the English Football League over the weekend, after being under review by government.

Multiple teams across the EFL offered to be part of the trial, which would allow up to 1,000 fans to be socially distanced in the stadium.

Scunthorpe United was one of the clubs to put its name forward, but has since been unable to receive approval from the council, as per the latest government guidelines.

In an interview with BBC Breakfast, cabinet office minister Michael Gove confirmed the plans had been “paused” due to the increasing COVID-19 case numbers.

He said: “What we must do is look at sporting events now with caution but we also recognise that sport is a vital part of this nation and we’re looking at everything we can do to support our athletes, our great clubs, through what will be a challenging time.”

The UK’s COVID-19 alert level has moved to 4, meaning transmission of the virus is “high or rising exponentially”.

This alert level also prompted the government to impose a 10pm curfew for all pubs and restaurants from Thursday.

New restrictions are also expected to be introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday evening.

This could also see a delay to the start of the National League season, which is due to start on October 3.

Boston United would be affected by this, as they prepare for another season in the National League North.

The scrapped plans come just a week after Lincoln MP Karl McCartney penned an open letter to the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, asking for a safe return for sports fans.

Games will still be played behind closed doors, with Lincoln City preparing to face Premier League champions Liverpool at the LNER Stadium on Thursday in the Carabao Cup.