The English Football League chairman Rick Parry says the decision to allow fans back into grounds is a “lifeline” for lower-league clubs.
On Monday the prime minister, Boris Johnson, announced that from 2 December up to 4,000 supporters can attend matches depending on levels of Covid-19 in the area.
“We welcome the prime minister’s announcement because clearly we’ve been pushing for the return of fans for some considerable time,” Parry told Radio Four’s Today programme.
“We do recognise the problems the country has been facing particularly during the second lockdown. We have to build upon it because what we are really looking forward to is getting fans back in more substantial numbers, but this is a really welcome start.
“At League One and League Two level it could be very significant. It’s not just the money, it’s a very welcome return to an atmosphere, and if we get 4,000 at League Two level it would be very welcome. It can be a very welcome lifeline.”
The EFL is considering moving some of its fixtures scheduled for Tuesday 1 December to the following day in order to get fans in.
“We need the detail,” added Parry. “Clearly we have a number of games taking place on 1 December, in theory we will be as flexible as we can if they can be moved to 2 December. But we don’t know which clubs will be in which tier yet.
“We won’t know that until Thursday. We will need permissions from the safety advisory groups, we need to know this is done properly so it’s one step at a time.”
However, Parry admits there will be some logistical hurdles to overcome if clubs are going to be able to welcome back supporters. “Some clubs will still have safety officers on furlough, it’s taken everyone a bit by surprise,” he said.
“We weren’t really expecting anything before Christmas. There’s a lot of work to do quite quickly and it’s really important that we get this right. It’s not a case of rushing into this and tripping over. It’s a case of being measured, getting it right,
“The clubs will be taken by surprise because they were expecting noting really before Christmas. We’ve been involved in discussions with the DCMS [Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport] who’ve been incredibly supportive. Clearly it’s something we’ve been pressing for but it’s literally in the last few days that it has become a reality.”