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An insight into supporters’ return to stadiums

Level Playing Field explore some of the new procedures in place at EFL stadia, as preliminary test events shine a light onto the future of football on the terraces.
FootballNorwich CityPreston North End

Norwich City were one of the few EFL clubs allowed to host a small pilot event at Carrow Road in preparation for the return of football fans to stadiums. That is before the UK Government performed a U-turn on the decision to allow supporters’ to return.

Even with this late change, Level Playing Field believes it remains important to report and discuss the return of supporter to stadia. Level Playing Field staff will continue to work with clubs and supporters to make sure that when we do all return to stadia we are as informed and safe as possible.

The Championship club had prepared to host 8,000 fans in their 27,000-seater stadium, before being notified that they would only be allowed to invite 1,000 after the latest government guidelines were triggered.

The pilot event was restricted to season ticket holders only, which included 20 wheelchair users and ambulant disabled supporters, located in the north and south stands. Situated so that they could be within 40 metres of accessible toilets.

The club confirmed there were no specific arrival times, but that fans should aim to arrive at the ground by 2 pm. It was reported that 99% of the spectators in attendance had abided by this guideline.

Prior to entering the stadium, food and drink was made available outside. This would be the supporters’ only chance to purchase refreshments, as there were no food concession stands available inside the ground, on the concourse.

Fans that required a personal assistant (PA) had until 2 pm on the day of the game to confirm the details of the person that would accompany them. If on arrival, they needed to amend the details of a PA, this could be done by visiting the ticket office with identification, whereby a new ticket would be issued.

In an article for The FSA, the Canaries Trust provided a video from Norwich City fan Gary Field, who had documented his matchday as he experienced the new procedures for the first time.

Gary highlights how tickets were distributed, crowds were managed and what social-distancing measures were in place. A helpful video for fans who wish to watch their teams live again when it is safe to do so.

[Video credit: Football Supporters Association / Canaries Trust]