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    Potential date set for when fans are allowed back in stadiums

    A potential date has been set for when fans are allowed back in stadiums, which was announced in Wednesday’s daily government briefing.

    The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said there had been “productive discussions” over plans for supporters to begin attending games again, as the Premier League returned on Wednesday with matches behind closed doors.

    The Football Association are also having discussions about how fans can return to games as early as September.

    He told the daily coronavirus briefing: “I would really hope that by the return of the new season, we might be in a position whereby some fans could start to return to stadiums.

    “I know that would be another important part of restoring the financial positions of clubs.”

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    The start date of the 2020-21 season has not been confirmed but it is reportedly being lined up for September, as opposed to the usual August start time.

    Dowden indicated that fans could return to stadiums before audiences would be allowed back into theatres.

    He said: “I understand the need for all of these venues to return with people in them and, indeed, eventually without social distancing.

    “But that can only be done if the public health allows it to happen.

    “I think you see different scenarios – in relation to stadiums where people are outside and they are much bigger and there is more scope for social distancing, it may be that you could do that sooner.

    “I know particularly with the performing arts and theatres, when you are doing that in a confined space there are greater risks there.”

    The culture secretary also warned fans against gathering around stadiums while matches are going on during the current lockdown restrictions.

    “Police have appropriate powers and they will be able to use them as necessary,” he added.

    “There is nothing to be gained from congregating outside a stadium.

    “The only thing that can happen if you congregate outside a stadium is to put at risk public health.”

    Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has told talkSPORT: “It is going to be different when the Premier League comes back.

    “Fans aren’t going to be in the stadiums. The Premier League won’t be back with a capital ‘B’ until they are.

    “There are some early discussions going on about how it might happen. I think it would be inappropriate to talk about when that might happen.

    “But obviously we’re confident that at some point next season there will be fans back inside stadiums, whether that’s on a phased basis remains to be seen.

    “But we are willing participants in those discussions, willing to offer our expertise, and us as guinea pigs really, to work out how best it can be done in a safe and appropriate way.”

    The first matches since English football was suspended took place behind-closed-doors on Wednesday.

    Aston Villa played a controversial 0-0 draw against Sheffield United in front of a mostly empty Villa Park, with no one but staff, medics the players and media in the ground.

    That match was followed up by Manchester City’s comfortable 3-0 win over Arsenal, where David Luiz has a nightmare and 19 year old Eric Garcia was knocked down by keeper Ederson. He is stable but tests are ongoing.

    Fans took to Twitter after learning the potential date set for when fans are allowed back in stadiums…

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