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Ulster to welcome 1,000 fans for Pro14 clash

Irish Pro14 rugby union team Ulster will welcome up to 1,000 supporters for this weekend’s home match against Welsh side Scarlets.

Belfast-based Ulster admitted 600 supporters to the 18,211-seat Kingspan Stadium for its season opener against Italian outfit Benetton Rugby on October 2. The team has since played two games behind closed doors due to local COVID-19 restrictions but fans will return to the stadium for Sunday’s clash with Scarlets.

Ulster will make 500 pairs of tickets available for #TogetherUlster Members through an online ballot process. Members who applied for tickets to last month’s Benetton match but missed out will receive priority.

The Benetton game only offered seating tickets but the Scarlets match will feature a mix of seating and terracing across all four stands and the East Terrace. Tickets will be priced at £20 and two-metre social distancing measures will be in place.

Sunday’s match will mark the largest attendance at an Ulster match since the COVID-19 outbreak. The online ticket ballot opened for 24 hours from 1pm today (Tuesday).

Belfast’s Windsor Park last week welcomed just over 1,000 football fans for Northern Ireland’s UEFA Euro 2021 play-off match against Slovakia.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, the green light has been given for a trial that would allow up to 1,500 fans at football matches in the country.

The Dutch cabinet has approved the trial, which would see fans tested for COVID-19 in advance before sitting in bubbles inside the stadium. It is unclear when the trial will begin but second-tier teams Almere City FC and NEC Nijmegen will be the first clubs to take part.

The trial will form part of the ‘Back to Live’ campaign launched in the Netherlands, which has been backed by the Dutch Football Association (KNVB).

A KNVB spokesperson told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: “We will make the knowledge we gain from this available for other events. It is very important that research is carried out in the short term, so that decisions are made on the basis of facts and figures and there is perspective for the events industry, which has now been inactive for some time. Football likes to be part of the solution.”

Fans will be required to answer a list of health-related questions before and after attending matches. The dedicated bubbles set up inside the stadium will ensure that each group of fans uses separate entrances, toilets and catering facilities.

The trial will only be able to begin when the regional COVID-19 risk level drops to ‘vigilant’, the lowest tier.

Image: Kanbers/CC BY-SA 3.0/Edited for size