The EFL confirmed yesterday, Sunday 4 April, that fans will be in attendance at the Carabao Cup Final. Games have been played almost exclusively behind closed doors since football was halted for a period last spring due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Plans are in place for supporters to attend matches again and the EFL updated yesterday on the next steps.
The 2021 Carabao Cup Final has been confirmed as an official test event for the UK Government’s Events Research Programme, said the statement. There will 8,000 people permitted to attend Wembley Stadium on Sunday 25 April, where Manchester City play Tottenham Hotspur. The EFL confirmed that a proportion of tickets will be made available to finalist clubs, meaning fans from each side will be able to cheer on their teams, marking a welcome return of club supporters to English football. Further information on ticketing and club allocations will be announced separately in due course.
Some games were played in front of fans in the winter when restrictions on movement in the UK were loosened due to a drop in Covid-19 cases. But with cases rising in early 2021, games were once again moved behind closed doors. Brentford hosted two games in December in front of 2,000 fans per match and also played Watford away from home under the same circumstances.
The statement included further updates. As part of the Events Research Programme, the Carabao Cup Final will be one of a number of sports events used to collect evidence and collate best practice for managing and mitigating transmission risk. The evidence will then be shared across the event economy so that venues can prepare to accommodate fuller crowds and audiences.
Rick Parry, Chair of the EFL, said: “The Carabao Cup is a prized asset of the EFL, a great competition for clubs to win and always a fantastic occasion. So we are absolutely delighted to see supporters back for the 2021 Final, in what will hopefully be another important milestone along the way to a full return of fans. Football has lots of expertise in crowd management so we welcome the opportunity to support the Government in its Events Research Programme and will also take great pride in hosting NHS staff at the Final to whom we owe so much for their momentous efforts throughout the pandemic.
“The EFL’s broad objective has always been to seek fans return to stadia as soon as it is safe to do so. We welcome the opportunity to play our part working collaboratively with Wembley Stadium, local authorities and specialists overseeing the research programme. These collective efforts will be crucial as we seek a return for fans of EFL clubs for the Play-Offs and start of the 2021/22 season, so that our members can plan with confidence.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Our sports stars and great performers need us to find ways to get bums back on seats safely. This science-led pilot programme will be the springboard in getting the buzz back of live performance. We’ve supported the sports and arts with unprecedented sums, but it’s now time to make that Great British Summer of live events a reality.”