The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sports has issued fresh new guidance as to its planned test pilots for the return of spectators and fans to sporting venues. In a press release issued Thursday 10th and effective as of Friday, the government is set to reduce the number of people that can attend sporting events to pilot the safe return of spectators and fans to 1,000. This is in light of the increase in the number of positive coronavirus cases nationally. Whilst it is encouraging that the test pilots are to continue with small limited spectators and fans it is a blow to what many were hoping would see the start of fans and spectators returning to sports venues and stadiums over the autumn in a controlled and secure way.

The Government press release states all pilots with larger audiences will be reviewed in light of transmission rates and risk to decide if they are safe to go ahead.

  • The Government will keep this under review whether fans will be able to return to sports stadia from 1 October and if people can attend socially distanced business conferences and events
  • Sports pilots will not be able to take place in areas that have high coronavirus incidence rates

While a number of successful pilots have already been held in football, rugby, cricket and snooker, given the overall national Covid situation pilots will now be limited in number. The government will also make a decision on whether fans can return to sports stadia socially distanced on 1 October and if people will be able to attend business conferences and events from that date.

Importantly organised grassroots sport will be able to continue in a covid-secure way to help people stay fit and healthy. This includes organised team sports, Parkrun and exercise classes in gyms and leisure centres.

The latest Government press release states the following test events are currently still able to continue with an audience capped at no more than 1,000 people, subject to locations not having local prevalence concerns:


12 September, Dagenham - West Ham v Arsenal (Women’s Super League Fixture)

12 September, Cambridge United v Carlisle United (EFL League Two)

27 September, Wembley - Non-League Finals Day (FA Vase and FA Trophy)

Rugby Union

14 September - Gloucester v Harlequins

Horse Racing

21 September - Warwick

24-26 September - Newmarket, Cambridgeshire


16 September - Yorkshire vs Durham (T20)

18 September - Lancashire vs Durham (T20)

18 September - Hampshire vs Surrey (T20)

19 September - Western Storm vs Sunrisers (Women’s T20)


18 September, Eagles Community Arena, Newcastle


26 September, Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich