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HomeLive StreamMinister would ‘grab’ opportunity for more events to test return of fans

Minister would ‘grab’ opportunity for more events to test return of fans

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The Culture Secretary has said he would “grab” any opportunity to increase the number of events to test the return of fans into sports stadiums.

Oliver Dowden faced calls from MPs for a Wembley final and Premier League Burnley’s Turf Moor stadium to be added to the venues used for the trials.

The FA Cup Final and the World Snooker Championship are among the pilot events designed to test the large-scale return of spectators to venues as the country seeks to reopen following the latest Covid-19 lockdown.

Under the Government’s current plans, up to 10,000 fans could be allowed in outdoor seated venues from May 17.

Speaking in the Commons, Labour’s Kate Osborne (Jarrow) said the delayed FA Vase Final between Consett AFC and Hebburn Town on May 3 should become a pilot event so fans can attend.

It is currently scheduled to take place behind closed doors.

Snooker balls are lined up in a suitcase (PA) / PA Archive

Ms Osborne described the final as the “biggest match in Hebburn Town’s history”, with Mr Dowden replying: “I share her desire to get sports fans back in stadiums as quickly as we can.”

He added: “We have already set out a road map and I think it’s important to people that we stick to that road map and that would see fans returning, socially distanced, from May 17.

“We have already set out a pilot for the FA Cup Final.

“It’s important to understand what these pilots are about, they are about testing fans coming in to and out of stadiums, they’re not sort of windows to allow extra events to happen.

“We will of course keep this under review and if there is a possibility, of course I would grab it.”

Conservative MP Antony Higginbotham (Burnley) earlier asked whether Burnley FC could be included in the trials.

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