Kolkata: UK government, which has started limited entry of fans into sporting events from early May, may take up the Royal Ascot racing festival and the second England-New Zealand Test match in June among the next pilot events to test the return of big crowds to sports venues.
According to a BBC report, Royal Ascot, which runs from June 15-19, will be permitted to host about 10,000 spectators each day. The second Test of the men’s series against New Zealand, beginning on June 10 at Edgbaston, is set to have more than 15,000 fans.
June could then well be a landmark month in sport in England as the first two group games of the Three Lions in Euro 2020 will also be part of the next stage of the pilot project with 20,000 fans permitted at Wembley.
Current government guidelines mandate that up to 10,000 spectators, but no more than 25% of capacity, are allowed in stadiums while for non-seated outdoor venues like racecourses there is a current cap of 4,000. Edgbaston has a capacity of 25,000 while Ascot can hold up to 70,000 people.
England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), meanwhile, have also started selling tickets for the upcoming fixtures of both their men and women’s teams. They have a choc-a-bloc calendar ahead culminating in the high profile five-Test series against India in August-September. The response for the ‘Indian Summer’ is believed to be huge while sold tickets are backed by a ticket refund promise by the ECB in case of a change in the government policy on allowing crowds.
Fans have been allowed back in stadiums in limited numbers since the latest phase of lockdown due to the pandemic easing in the country on May 17. In the Premier League, clubs were allowed up to 10,000 supporters inside grounds for the last two rounds of matches.
There were around 20,000 fans at the FA Cup final at Wembley and the World Snooker Championship final was the first sporting event for more than a year to have a capacity crowd on May 3.