Fans WILL be allowed to watch Gloucester’s Premiership clash against Harlequins on Monday despite new government restrictions on crowds
- Kingsholm will be next after Quins hosted 3,500 for Bath match last weekend
- Test events have been capped at just 1,000 spectators due to rise in infections
- RFU ‘cautiously optimistic’ they will be able to host 20,000 fans at Twickenham
Gloucester will be the latest Premiership rugby club to host a limited number of fans – despite re-enforced government restrictions – with 1,000 to be welcomed to their Monday match against Harlequins.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport have now capped all test events for fans at just 1,000 spectators, but Kingsholm will be next after The Stoop hosted 3,500 for their Bath match last weekend.
While a small win for the Cherry & Whites Sportsmail understands that the event will actually lose the club money – due to the cost of putting the event on in the first place.
Kingsholm will be next after The Stoop hosted 3,500 for their Bath match last weekend
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: ‘In light of increasing transmission rates, the Government is reviewing the proposed sports and business events pilots ahead of October 1 and we will unfortunately need to scale some back.
‘We know fans and audiences are eager to return, and jobs depend on this too, so work continues around the clock on the moonshot project with the ambition of having audiences back much closer to normal by Christmas, if safe to do so.’
Despite the positive news in the Premiership, the Champions and Challenge Cup European matches based in England and Ireland this weekend will not host fans.
Bristol hoped to welcome in supporters for their Dragons Challenge Cup quarter-final, but that now looks highly unlikely. Exeter and Leicester had no intention of hosting supporters, and Saracens’ match in Dublin against Leinster will also be played behind closed doors.
Spectators will be allowed back into Kingsholm for the first time since lockdown in March
Toulouse, though, hope to bring 5,000 to their match against Ulster and have moved the game to the Stade Ernst Wallon from Le Stadium across town due to COVID restrictions.
‘Knock-out games at home are always great moments of sport, which is so big in our city,’ said Toulouse president Didier Lacroix.
‘Playing this quarter-final at a reduced level frustrates us enormously – by relocating the quarter-final to Ernest Wallon and with the attendance limited to 5,000 people, we are dividing our possible revenues by eight times.’
The RFU meanwhile are still are still ‘cautiously optimistic’ they will be able to host 20,000 fans at Twickenham for the Barbarians match despite government restrictions – hoping to mitigate missing out on £100m of revenue.
The RFU are still ‘cautiously optimistic’ they will be able to host 20,000 fans at Twickenham
The match on October 25 was meant to be highest attended event in Europe since lockdown and tickets went on sale on Tuesday, the day before the government’s decision to limit gatherings.
Union CEO Bill Sweeney revealed in May that if the autumn Tests were to be played behind closed doors the RFU would miss out on £100million in revenue.
So they are still desperate to entertain fans.
‘We remain cautiously optimistic and look forward to hearing more detail from the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the return of fans to stadia,’ said an RFU spokesperson.
‘Should the situation occur that we have to play behind closed doors, fans who have purchased tickets will be refunded.’
They still plan to run a test event too before the BaaBaas match at HQ, but that is likely to be limited to just 1,000 spectators.
Gloucester CEO Lance Bradley said: ‘We’re absolutely delighted to have been selected to host a pilot event to let fans back into Kingsholm Stadium on Monday.
‘We believe that Gloucester Rugby fans are the most passionate in the country, and I know they’re desperate to watch our club play live again. It should be a great advert not only for Gloucester Rugby, but for Premiership Rugby as a whole.’