Manchester United have altered their stadium to accommodate 23,500 socially-distanced fans – with temperature checks and staggered arrival times planned for when supporters eventually return.
Old Trafford, which can ordinarily accommodate 76,000 spectators, was modified over the course of two months as the Premier League club prepared to welcome back fans for the first time since spring.
But according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, supporters may not be allowed to attend matches until March 2021.
All top-tier football matches have been played behind closed doors since the Premier League returned to action in June, with the government permitting pilot schemes in lower divisions which allowed spectators in smaller numbers.
Supporters were supposed to be gradually reintroduced at matches nationwide in October, but this plan was scrapped following a second rise in COVID-19 cases in Britain.
United, however, have called the decision to keep fans out of the Theatre of Dreams “bemusing”.
Collette Roche, United’s Chief Operating Officer said: “I’m convinced that we would be able to [accommodate fans] safely.”
The United COO told Sky Sports: “It’s quite bemusing to understand why people can gather in other settings such as on an aeroplane or in a restaurant, or even in a cinema to watch football, when we know we’ve got the plans and the process is ready to deliver a match day here safely.
“We spent around two months working with the government guidelines to develop the right processes and measures to make sure that we can have around 23,500 people in this stadium safely social distancing.”
A #LetFansIn campaign asking the government to allow supporters into stadiums has also amassed thousands of signatures – receiving backing from media such as TalkSport and several football clubs around the country.