Carabao Cup final to be played in front of thousands of spectators

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This month’s Carabao Cup final between Manchester City and Tottenham at Wembley will be attended by up to 8,000 spectators after it was confirmed as a test event for the return of fans to stadiums.

Tickets will be available to fans of both Man City and Spurs, as well as residents of the area surrounding Wembley and NHS workers for the game on April 25.

The English Football League (EFL), which runs the Carabao Cup, says information on ticketing will be made available at a later date.

The final will be part of the UK Government’s Events Research Programme, which will be using such events “to collect evidence and collate best practice for managing and mitigating transmission risk,” according to the EFL.

“The evidence will then be shared across the event economy so that venues can prepare to accommodate fuller crowds and audiences,” the governing body added.

EFL chairman Rick Parry 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.

Pep Guardiola lifts the Carabao Cup trophy after Man City's  victory over Aston Villa in March 2020
Man City have won the Carabao Cup for the last three seasons

“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 FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton on April 18, plus the final on May 15, will also be used as test events.

Four thousand local residents will be permitted to attend the semi-final, while 21,000 are scheduled to be in attendance for the final. Both games will take place at Wembley.

The Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “We are delighted to be hosting three test events at Wembley.

“This is an important first step towards getting fans back, with the end goal of full stadia – hopefully by the end of the men’s Euros.

“We would like to thank all authorities for their support throughout this process.”

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.”

Coronavirus restrictions have prevented fans from attending sports venues across England since the scrapping of the Government’s tier system in December.

As well as the three games at Wembley, the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield – running from April 17 to May 3 – is also included in the trial and will have 1,000 spectators per day.

There will also be mass-participation runs at Hatfield House on April 24 and 25.

In developing the Events Research Programme, officials will take into account three factors – whether an individual has received the coronavirus vaccine, has recently tested negative for the virus, or has “natural immunity” having tested positive in the previous six months.

The NHS is said to be currently working on ways of providing people with the means to demonstrate their Covid status through “digital and non-digital routes”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We have made huge strides over the past few months with our vaccine programme and everyone in the country has made huge sacrifices to get us to this stage in our recovery from Covid-19.

“We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country so people can return to the events, travel and other things they love as safely as possible, and these reviews will play an important role in allowing this to happen.”

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