Select EFL games to pilot fan returns

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Select clubs in England’s Football League will be allowed to admit up to 1,000 fans at this weekend’s games as part of a pilot scheme to test the return of supporters, the EFL said on Wednesday.

Norwich City’s encounter with Preston North End and Middlesbrough’s match against Bournemouth in the second tier Championship are among the games where fans will be allowed.

The EFL hopes that more fans will be allowed to attend games from October. An initial test event was held at Cambridge United last week.

“By extending across more EFL Clubs we hope to further demonstrate that the measures developed can allow fans to return in greater numbers from as early as next month,” said EFL Chair Rick Parry.

“The requirement to welcome spectators back through turnstiles has not diminished in any way, the financial challenges facing EFL Clubs have been explained on numerous occasions, they are substantial and a problem that requires immediate solutions,” he said.

The 10 matches selected also included games in third-tier League One and fourth tier League Two. Yet the EFL later confirmed second-tier side Luton Town and fourth-tier club Morecambe opted not to participate in this weekend’s pilot.

Luton and Morecambe both released statements saying they did not have enough time to prepare for the return of fans this weekend.

British sport chiefs on Wednesday held talks with Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden on whether spectators can return to stadiums starting next month.

Reporting by Simon Evans, additional reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Toby Davis