It is a significant week for this summer’s European Championship, with host nations set to submit their plans to UEFA for fans being allowed into stadiums.
Despite the continued pandemic, and a rise in infections in several European countries sparking renewed lockdowns, countries hosting the Euros are hoping for as many fans as possible in their stadiums for games.
So what is the situation as it stands? Which countries are planning for supporters? And how many? Sky Sports News chief reporter Bryan Swanson answers key questions…
Which countries have plans for fans?
There are 12 host cities and each association has been asked to inform UEFA no later than Wednesday, April 7 of their intentions for the minimum number of fans inside each stadium this summer. Some associations may well ask for longer to do so – but time is running out.
Nine of the host countries are competing in the competition; Netherlands, Spain, Hungary, Denmark, Scotland, England, Germany, Italy, and Russia. But only Denmark, Russia and Italy have revealed the specifics of their plans; to have between thirty and fifty per cent capacity.
The Italian government confirmed on Tuesday fans will be present, and Sky in Italy are reporting the Italian FA gave UEFA assurances over safely welcoming at least 25 per cent of the Stadio Olimpico’s 72,600 capacity.
What about England?
Wembley Stadium will stage seven matches, including the semi-finals and final, and the FA is encouraged the government has given the go-ahead for test events featuring thousands of spectators beforehand at an FA Cup semi-final on April 18, the Carabao Cup final on April 25, and the FA Cup final on May 15.
Three host countries failed to qualify for Euro 2020 – Azerbaijan, Romania, and Republic of Ireland – and Dublin appears to be the most vulnerable at this stage.
UEFA’s top officials – members of its Executive Committee – have indicated their intention to vote through all decisions prior to the UEFA Congress on April 20.
What have the Irish government said?
They are not in a position to give a minimum number of supporters at the Aviva Stadium in June.
Dublin is scheduled to host four games – featuring Sweden, Slovakia, and Poland – and a round-of-16 game involving the winners of the group featuring England and Scotland.
But a statement from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media to Sky Sports News on April 6 said: “At its meeting last Tuesday the government noted that owing to the pandemic it is not in a position at this point to provide assurances on minimum spectator levels at the UEFA 2020 matches due to be held in Dublin in June.
“The government also noted that officials will keep the matter under review and continue to work with UEFA on the hosting of the matches noting Ireland’s track record in the last year in staging major spectator field sports in the areas of football, GAA and rugby.”
Scotland seem more positive?
Yes, there have been more positive noises from the Scottish government in recent weeks.
Like Dublin, Glasgow will host three group games and a round-of-16 match.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told Sky Sports News she is “hopeful” fans will attend matches at Hampden Park this summer.
Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, Sturgeon added she was “desperate” for matches to take place in Scotland and said she was “optimistic” games would take place with “a reasonably good number of spectators in Hampden”.
What are UEFA saying?
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has said there must be supporters at each game, and it is not an option for any match to be played behind closed doors.
UEFA is expected to provide clarity later this week, by Friday at the latest, and Sky Sports News has been told no association has told them they are unable to host any supporters.
But the biggest issue is the variation of figures, with some associations reportedly only able to offer around 10 per cent of stadia capacity, and whether lower figures will make staging those games financially viable.
UEFA has not publicly revealed the minimum number of supporters it expects at each game, but a figure of at least 25 per cent has not been disputed by officials at their headquarters in Switzerland.
UEFA wants the highest number of fans as possible at its showpiece tournament, provided it is safe to do so.
Can anyone offer guarantees?
No – and therein lies the problem.
UEFA is doing its best to plan for an already heavily disrupted competition, but the global pandemic has been unpredictable, and it has affected each country in different ways.
There will be a ‘Plan B’, to respond to unforeseen, late, cancellations caused by a further spike in coronavirus cases on the eve of games, but nobody has publicised their contingency plans.
These remain uncertain times, but, by the end of this week, we should be much clearer on how this summer’s competition will be supported.