Manchester United has declared its readiness to welcome back fans to Old Trafford as soon as the UK government gives the green light for stadiums to reopen.
No fans have been allowed inside the Theatre of Dreams since the club’s 2-0 victory in the Manchester derby last March because of the pandemic.
Plans for stadiums to be reopened in October were postponed by the government because of the resurgence in Covid-19 cases, eaving fans of all clubs uncertain when they will next be able to cheer on their team from the stands.
Collette Roche, Manchester United Chief Operating Officer, said the club had put rigorous plans in place to make Old Trafford as safe as possible for fans when they are allowed back.
Roche told Sky Sports News:
We were really disappointed when the government decided not to allow fans back in the stadium in October because we’ve got everything in place to make sure we can do so safely.
We’ve got all the Covid security measures and other processes ready to go. 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.
While stressing that public health was the number one priority, Roche said it was unfair for football fans to be treated differently from other groups of people. She said:
It’s quite bemusing to understand why people can gather in other settings such as on an aeroplane or 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.
Roche said the club had “had to redesign what match day looks like” with plans such as staggered arrival times for fans and temperature checks before entry to minimise risks. She said:
The government gave us guidelines and it’s those guidelines that we have followed. I’m convinced that would be able to do so safely.