The government has dashed hopes fans could be back inside stadiums for the start of the new Premier League season on 12 September with the sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, confirming officials are working towards 1 October.

A series of test events have started to be trialled in cricket grounds – with 1,000 fans being allowed to watch Surrey play Middlesex last Sunday. The world snooker championship and the final day of Glorious Goodwood will follow this week.

“The October 1 deadline is certainly the target that we’re looking at,” Huddleston said. “If you look at various announcements we’ve made, some have been put forward, some have been pushed back, but that’s a pretty firm one. In the whole scheme of things, it’s not that far away – 60-something days and we’ll be there – so I would be surprised if that date was moved.”

The Community Shield and Women’s Super League matches are believed to be under consideration as test events, but Huddleston warned football fans that if they didn’t obey social distancing rules in test events it would push back the reopening of stadiums.

“There are particular challenges with certain sports,” he said. “People have got to realise if you don’t behave, you won’t have more people in stadiums. They’ve got to take that personal responsibility and realise that if they don’t behave appropriately they’re risking the game for everybody.” Continue reading

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