Wembley is ready to welcome crowds back this month after being empty for more than a year. Although only local workers and residents will be allowed into the stadium for the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton, the Carabao Cup final between Manchester City and Tottenham is set to have a limited number of fans of the clubs.
A wider relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in England will not take effect until May to allow stadiums across the country to open their turnstiles again for the first time in 2021 with a maximum of 10,000 spectators.
But the pilot events at Wembley will be used to assess procedures for coronavirus testing on fans that will eventually allow for far bigger crowds to be welcomed back – particularly for the European Championship, with seven games including the semi-finals and final in July at the stadium.
Brent council, the London authority covering Wembley, wrote to residents this week asking them to register their interest in attending the two games. For the FA Cup semi-final on 18 April, 4,000 tickets are due to be allocated locally including to Brent council staff, those working in the health sector, teachers, students over the age of 18 and residents of Wembley Park, which includes apartment blocks surrounding the stadium.
“These groups have been chosen as they are largely already in regular testing regimes,” Brent council said. “The second event will have a larger capacity and also include fans.”
The council said each attender had to return a negative lateral flow Covid-19 test 24 hours before attending the game and show proof to gain entry. They will also need to take a PCR home test after the event.
Each successful applicant will receive two tickets for each match. The Carabao Cup final is on 25 April. The other FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Manchester City will be closed to spectators on 17 April.