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Premier League

Football League targeting to start next season with full crowds after £250m losses

EFL bosses are hopeful fans will be back in full stadiums from the start of next season.

Trevor Birch, the EFL chief executive, revealed clubs have already lost £250m in the past year because of the coronavirus pandemic and they cannot wait for the return of supporters.

The FA Cup semi final on Sunday, April 18, will be the first test event with 4,000 spectators with the Carabao Cup final to follow while the EFL also hope to have up to 10,000 fans for the Wembley play-offs at the end of the season.

But there are even more ambitious plans from the start of the 2021/22 campaign for Championship, League One and Two clubs as the EFL hopes that Covid certification may allow fans to return to full capacity stadiums.

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Empty EFL stadiums will hopefully be a thing of the past next season

Birch said: “Our aspiration and goal is that, from August 6, we will be back in full stadia in line with the Government roadmap for unlocking the economy from June 21 and hopefully as a result of all these test events that will assist and hopefully lead the Government to allow us to do so.

“The key will obviously be to try to mitigate the spread by removing the need for social distancing which leads you to the Covid certification which will undoubtedly have a role to play moving forwards.

“I’m positive, our aspiration has to be that, we are not blind to the issues surrounding the difficulties in achieving that but hopefully with the introduction of Covid certification, which seem to be the direction of travel, that may well assist us in getting to that level.”

The EFL is also hoping that the play-offs will signal a return to normality after a year in which clubs have been pushed to the brink of financial meltdown.

Trevor Birch has made the good news

Birch added: “It’s vital for the clubs. In rough numbers, clubs have lost about £250m of revenue over 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, so it’s significant in terms of gate receipts, commercial and sponsorship revenues.

“The play-off semi-finals as it stands, hopefully it will be around the 10,000 level but it’s not yet confirmed and I think it will be the same for the finals.”

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Premier League bosses are still hopeful that they will be able to play the last two rounds of fixtures in front of fans, although time is against them and they will need the test events at Wembley to go smoothly.

The Euros is also under the spotlight as also the host cities had to report to UEFA today/yesterday (WEDS) about the numbers of fans they could admit to games with the Irish Government most at risk of losing fixtures because they have been reluctant to offer any guarantees.

That could mean England – who potentially have a last 16 game in Dublin – could see their fixture moved while Hampden Park hope to host 12,000 fans and the Football Association are confident they could have as many as 20,000 at Wembley.

The 12 nations will have a further meeting on Thursday to discuss logistics, UEFA then hope to announce on Friday full details together with ticketing numbers. Host cities will then have until April 28 to increase the numbers.

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