fter 266 days, the long wait is over and football fans will finally return to grounds across the country tonight.
Grounds have been empty since football was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 13 but tonight a total of about 10,000 fans will be allowed into six games in EFL.
It may only be a small number of spectators for now but this feels like a huge moment and, on the day when the UK became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine, there is some light at the end of what has been a long, dark tunnel.
With kick-off scheduled for 7:45pm GMT, Dan Kilpatrick will be at The Valley to keep you up to date on a momentous day in English football.
A Covid questionnaire for fans on arrival…
What fans can and can’t do
– No close contact with anyone outside your social bubble.
– Singing and shouting permitted, but the use of face masks is strongly encouraged when watching the game.
– Masks are mandatory in all indoor areas, including on entry and in concourses, queues and toilets.
– Avoid using toilet facilities ‘at peak times’ – half-time and the end of the game .
– Alcohol is permitted without having to order food.
– Clubs are exempt from having to provide table service, but fans must be seated to consume food and drink.
– Clubs have been asked to stagger arrivals and departures and provide post-match entertainment to avoid full-time ‘surge’ for exits.
– Refrain from throwing the ball back if it is kicked into the stands .
– Avoid approaching players for autographs or photographs
– And travelling from Tier 3 areas to attend matches elsewhere prohibited.
Charlton players have arrived at the Valley…
Charlton are well placed to lead the way in the capital, having been one of eight EFL clubs to host 1,000 supporters at a pilot event in September. Staff have been working around the clock since getting the sign-off from Greenwich Council last Friday. The club have opened three sides of the Valley tonight to help spread fans out and encourage social distancing.
No fans at Wimbledon despite London’s Tier 2 ruling
AFC Wimbledon play Peterborough United at home tonight – but they are not expecting to host supporters at their new stadium at Plough Lane until next year. The Dons played their first match at their newly built home last month but the stadium remains unfinished, is still under the management of contractors and the club is yet to be awarded a safety certificate to host fans. They hope to hold one of two required test events with fans at a home match in January but chief executive Joe Palmer has warned there is still considerable work to be done before they can host even a small number of spectators.
How will the experience be different?
Charlton have issued guidance to fans attending
The game at the Valley is one of six matches in the EFL that will be attended by fans tonight. Elsewhere, supporters will return at Luton v Norwich and Wycombe v Stoke in the Championship, Shrewsbury v Accrington in League One and, in League Two, Carlisle v Salford and Cambridge v Mansfield. But we’ll be focusing on events in SE9.
Hello and welcome to our LIVE coverage of a momentous day in English football as fans return to the capital to watch Charlton vs MK Dons at the Valley.