The British government is aiming to have partial crowds in Premier League stadiums by the start of October.
The target date set by sports minister Nigel Huddleston seemingly quashes hopes that supporters will be granted entry for the start of the Premier League season on Sept. 12. The English Football League - which oversees the Championship, League One, and League Two - kicks off that same weekend.
"The Oct. 1 deadline is certainly the target that we're looking at," Huddleston said, according to The Guardian's Sean Ingle. "If you look at various announcements we've made (in other sports), 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 United Kingdom is already trialing the return of spectators at other sporting events - 1,000 people were allowed to watch last Sunday's county cricket fixture between Surrey and Middlesex at The Oval in London. The 2020 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield and the final day of West Sussex's Glorious Goodwood horse-racing festival will have restricted access this week.
The Community Shield and Women's Super League matches could be trialed before the men's domestic leagues begin, Ingle understands. The date for the partial opening of venues will be pushed back if people don't follow the rules at the test events.
"There are particular challenges with certain sports," Huddleston said. "People have got to realize if you don't behave, you won't have more people in stadiums. They've got to take that personal responsibility and realize that if they don't behave appropriately they're risking the game for everybody."