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Plans laid out for fans return including Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup final

The FA Cup semi finals at Wembley could see the return of crowds – but they may not be fans.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has confirmed the start of a trial programme and it is likely to be for just ONE of the two ties next month with potentially as few as 2,000 allowed in.

But it will be classed as a test event rather than the return of fans which means it is likely to be local residents in Wembley under strict coronavirus guidelines.

Government officials are still talking to the Football Association and Brent Council with full details and a list of events due to be confirmed later this week.

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Chelsea play Manchester City on Saturday April 17 which is live on BBC while Leicester face Southampton the following day.

It is understood Brent Council are being very cautious about a sudden influx of fans into their borough while the Government are keen to pave the way for fans to return so there may yet be some push back.

There is a hope that if the first test event goes well then the Carabao Cup final on April 25 could have more than 4,000 spectators in and building up to 10,000 fans for the FA Cup final on May 17.

Premier League clubs want to have fans in for the last two rounds of this season’s fixtures and are hoping stadiums will be full from the start of next season while UEFA want to see limited crowds even before legal restrictions are lifted in England on June 21.

Local safety groups are planning one-way filter systems at Wembley, they want to see if people maintain social distancing and there may also be a need for vaccination passports and Covid tests.

Dowden said: “We want to make it as simple and convenient as possible for people. That’s why we are conducting these pilots.

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“The plan is to look at factors like one-way systems, ventilation within a stadium and how you interact in terms of getting to and from the venue.

“The purpose of this is not so much the overall number, it is how they interact with each other. So it’s the social distancing that they have from each other. It’s the behavioural factors.

“We will be testing them before and after to look at spread and look how they behave in the stadium.

“We’re not just chucking everyone into the stadiums, it is being done in a very controlled way and the purpose is to get the rules set can so it can be as safe as possible from the 21 June.”

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