English Premier League football clubs will vote on whether to allow fans into stadiums for the final round of fixtures for the 2020-21 season amid fears that such a move could have an impact on the “sporting integrity” of the pivotal games.
Under the UK government’s roadmap out of the current COVID-19-related restrictions, a partial return on fans across the league could take place on the final day of the season, May 23.
However, according to the Daily Mirror newspaper, there are concerns that those clubs that have home games on that day could have an unfair advantage over their rivals.
Among the potentially vital fixtures scheduled for that day are Fulham v Newcastle United, Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa v Chelsea, all of which could decide relegation or European qualification places.
At least 14 of the league’s 20 clubs would need to vote in favour of welcoming back fans, with a maximum of 10,000 spectators set to be allowed through the turnstiles at each ground.
Such worries could be mitigated by an earlier return of fans to stadiums through a pilot programme that would allow between 2,000 and 4,000 supporters to return from mid-April.
The league and the government, though, are cautious about committing to such plans and have insisted privately that much depends on the success of the earlier phases of the roadmap.
The English Football League (EFL) is also expected to apply for the League Cup final between Manchester City and Tottenham on April 25 to be a pilot event for the return of fans.