Packing Wembley with 90,000 fans for the final of Euro2020 will show the world that ‘Britain is fighting fit post Brexit’, but those planning the event are still only preparing for a quarter-full stadium.
The roadmap, published on Monday, has raised the possibility of the showpiece final taking place in front of full stands, while the rest of Europe struggles to jab its population.
The government’s roadmap out of lockdown has created the possibility of a full house
The prospect of 90,000 fans at Wembley has triggered happy memories of Euro 96
The significance of the Euro 2020 final on July 11 going ahead with a capacity crowd seen by more than 600 million television viewers worldwide is not lost on politicians for the message it would send.
THE NEW LIMITS FROM MAY 17
From May 17, indoor venues will be allowed to admit up to a maximum of 1,000 spectators, or half their capacity if that figure is lower.
For outdoor events, there will be a maximum of 4,000 fans allowed, or half a venue’s capacity (whichever figure is lower).
However, at the biggest stadiums, such as Wembley, a maximum of 10,000 fans will be allowed, or a quarter of capacity (whichever figure is lower).
However, at the biggest stadiums, with a capacity above 16,000, such as Wembley and Premier League football grounds, a maximum of 10,000 fans will be allowed, or a quarter of capacity (whichever figure is lower).
‘If a full capacity crowd was achievable for this final… it would show that our country is fighting fit post Brexit and Covid,’ said Karl McCartney, the Conservative MP for Lincoln and captain of the Parliamentary football team.
That is angle is apparent to those planning the competition, too.
‘Because of Brexit they want to send a message to say that they are still open to the world,’ sone European source told Sportmail:
‘I understand where Boris Johnson is coming from. It is the perfect event if you want to show the world you have taken control.’
Earlier this week, Britain had given out 27.0 doses of the Covid vaccine per 100 people, compared to it closest European rival, Spain, which had managed 6.6 doses.
However, despite the optimism generated by the roadmap the challenge of staging a major international event with tens of thousands of fans is profound and there is scepticism on the continent that it can be achieved.
‘I don’t know a single person in the world of football who thinks a full stadium is realistic,’ said the source.
Sportsmail understands that UEFA’s Local Organising Committee in London was still working towards a quarter-full stadium – with just 22,500 fans – rather than a full house when it met on Tuesday, 24 hours after the roadmap was unveiled.
The group is a combination of representatives from the FA, Greater London Authority and Metropolitan Police, among others.
The committee is preparing for seven matches in the competition, including the semi-finals and the final on July 11.
Briatin is well ahead of its European neighbours in vaccinating the country’s population
Capacity crowds at Wembley in Euro2020 would send a strong message about the UK
Staging the Euro 2020 final in front of capacity crowd would show Britain ‘fighting fit’
Among the matches scheduled for Wembley are England’s Group D games against Croatia on June 11, Scotland on June 18 and the Czech Republic on June 22.
There will be a round of 16 match on June 26, semi-finals on July 6 and 7, and then the final.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney said a capacity crowd at Euro2020 would show Britain is ‘fighting fit’ but it must be done safely
The Prime Minister’s roadmap published on Monday sets out a four-step process for easing lockdown restrictions, which includes the return of up to 10,000 fans at sports events from May 17 as part of step three and the possibility of full-houses at stadiums from June 21 in step four.
Progressing through the four steps will be dependent upon falling infections rates, deaths and hospitalisations, as well as continued high-speed roll-out of the vaccine.
So, England’s games against Croatia and Scotland could be played in front of 10,000 fans, while the Czech Republic fixture could be a full house.
However, it appears the London organising committee and UEFA were taken by surprise when Johnson’s roadmap was published.
The safe return of capacity crowds at sports events would be a huge boost for Britain
Wembley will host England’s group matches against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic
Government sources acknowledge the current planning has been for crowds of 25% capacity at Wembley, but as testing events roll out, they say that can be ramped up as high as possible.
McCartney acknowledges that a capacity crowd is only possible if it can be done safely and, in the circumstances, if the game can be played in front of any fans at all – even 25% of the capacity – that would be welcomed.
‘It would be accepted by all those in the world of football as they will be happy that the game is taking place at all,’ he said.
But Whitehall sources say they are ambitious and every additional bum that can go on a seat is progress.
Trials are planned from next month to look at the transmission of the virus where spectators have been either vaccinated or tested, with confirmation provided via an enhanced NHS app.
Scotland will play England at Wembley after qualifying for Euro 2020 via the play-off final
The two nations previously met at Wembley in Euro 96, with England winning the game 2-0
The test events, which will span sport and the arts, will be studied in depth by scientists to assess any spike in infection resulting from them.
Boris Johnson’s roadmap has created the possibility of capacity crowds at sports events after June 21
Even if the tech works for UK residents, there are some significant health and logistical challenges in achieving step four.
It is one thing to deliver a safe event in a quarter-full stadium but another to have confidence in a sold-out match where supporters are cheek-by-jowl.
Of particular concern at Wembley has been the public transport of fans, who arrive at a small number of pinch points around the stadium, where it is difficult to manage the flow.
In addition, European Championship finals typically attract around 50% of fans attending from overseas.
That would mean potentially 45,000 people arriving from other countries, who would have to be certified Covid-free, when there is currently no provision for a cross-border electronic vaccination certificate.
In addition, vaccination rates are much lower in European countries, compared to the UK.
Britain is far outpacing Germany and other EU countries in handing out vaccines
Alternatively, if overseas fans could not travel, tickets may have to be refunded and resold to domestic supporters. UEFA has already offered supporters three chances to seek a refund for their tickets given concerns over travel and uncertainty about the number of supporters who will be allowed to attend matches in the 12 host cities.
LIST OF SUMMER SPORTING EVENTS
Women’s FA Cup final – May 22
Final weekend of Premier League season – May 23
England v New Zealand – first Test match June 2, second Test match June 10
Euro 2020 – starts June 11, final July 11 (matches at venues across Europe including Wembley)
Government could lift restrictions on larger events – June 21
Wimbledon – June 28 (men’s final July 11)
British Grand Prix at Silverstone – July 18
The Football Association will have to submit its preferred options to UEFA for attendance at the Wembley matches for a decision by the governing body in April.
The 12 host cities are currently considering four scenarios for a full stadium; 50-100% capacity; 20-30% capacity or no fans at all; and behind closed doors.
The FA could present alternative scenarios for different stages of the competition, including the group games, semi-final and final.
A spokesman for UEFA said the governing body would be ‘delighted’ if Wembley could safely stage games in front of capacity crowds.
And the UK’s vaccine progress has even led to speculation that the UK could host the entire tournament.
Armand Duka, president of the Albanian FA and a member of the executive committee of UEFA said on Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli: “They’ve decided to do it (let fans in) in England, we hope it will soon happen in the rest of Europe too.
“It’s possible that Euro 2020 will be played solely in England.
“There are still four or five months left, let’s see if the situation will change. If not, England remains a possibility.”
The roadmap out of lockdown: Boris Johnson’s plans would allow for all restrictions to be lifted by June and significant freedoms to return before then