After a week in which English fans helped bring down a proposed European Super League with furious protests, the return of supporters to stadiums took another significant step forward with 8,000 in attendance for Sunday’s League Cup final between Manchester City and Tottenham at Wembley.
For the first time in 13 months, a football match in England will have designated fans from both teams inside the stadium as part of a series of test events.
To get into Wembley, fans had to take a lateral flow coronavirus test at a designated site in the 24 hours before the game and produce evidence of a negative result.
They will also have to take two PCR tests at home — one before travelling to the match and another five days afterwards.
Last weekend, 4,000 local residents and key workers from Britain’s National Health Service were given the chance to watch Leicester progress to the FA Cup final against Southampton at Wembley, which holds a capacity of 90,000.
Local resident John Lofts was one of those in attendance for the Foxes’ victory and was back on Sunday to see the first silverware of the English season handed out.
“It’s nice to see some live sport and people back in the stadium,” he said on a sun-drenched Wembley Way.
“It’s nice to have that experience of a common interest back.”
City and Tottenham were two of six English clubs that announced their intention to join with six Spanish and Italian giants to form the Super League a week ago.
The backlash from fans, players, governments and governing bodies at a competition that planned to guarantee entry to 15 founding members every season without having to qualify saw City, Tottenham, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea withdraw within 48 hours.
There were no protests outside Wembley to match the demonstrations outside Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in recent days.
But the Super League was still on supporters’ minds, particularly for Tottenham fans hoping to see their side pull off an upset against the Premier League leaders.
Spurs are aiming to win their first trophy for 13 years under caretaker manager Ryan Mason after Jose Mourinho was also sacked in a tumultuous week.
“You never know what is going to happen in football, That was why there was such uproar this week. You can’t have a closed shop,” said George Bevan, a Tottenham season ticket holder of 12 years.
“We’re playing the best team in the country with a new manager, but you never know.”
The number of fans allowed in for the FA Cup final between Leicester and Chelsea on May 15 is set to be increased to 21,000 as coronavirus restrictions are slowly eased.
Wembley is also due to play host to eight matches at Euro 2020 in June and July with the British government committing to UEFA’s request to allow in at least 25 percent capacity.