The EFL have confirmed the Carabao Cup final has been selected as one of the UK government’s trial events to test the return of fans to stadiums.
It was revealed late in March that a handful of events for various different sports, including the FA Cup semi-final between Southampton and Leicester, will be allowed to welcome a small number of fans to give health officials a better idea of how plausible a return to stadiums is.
The next event to be included in the Events Research Programme is the Carabao Cup final between Manchester City and Tottenham, which the EFL confirmed on their official website will now be played in front of 8,000 fans.
A percentage of those 8,000 tickets will be offered up to both clubs’ fan base, with the remaining seats given to local residents and NHS staff.
“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,” EFL chairman Rick Parry.
“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 and 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 added: “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.”
The Carabao Cup was initially scheduled for February but was pushed back to April 25 in the hope that the game could be played in front of fans, and while the EFL would have preferred a bigger crowd, this decision will be seen as a positive result by all.