Published: 13:00, 17 July 2020
| Updated: 16:08, 17 July 2020
Crowds could be allowed back into sports stadiums from October, the prime minister has said.
Boris Johnson announced the news as part of measures to further ease the lockdown restrictions.
It may mean football fans will only miss a few weeks of the league campaign. The EFL season could be starting in mid-September. Non-league teams are expecting to start at around the same time.
Outdoor venues are already allowing access to supporters with Brands Hatch readmitting fans earlier this month.
With the rugby season set to get underway in the autumn shortly after the football season, it’s a welcome piece of good news for supporters keen to watch some live action again.
Mr Johnson said: “From August 1 we will restart indoor performances to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots, and we will aoso pilot larger gatherings in venues like sports stadia, with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn.
“From October, we intend to bring back audiences in stadia. Again these changes must be done in a Covid-secure way, subject to the successful outcome of pilots.”
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted: "From 1 October, if it's safe to do so, fans will be able to return to stadiums and competition venues with social distancing.
"We'll be running pilot events over the summer at the Snooker World Champs, Goodwood and in County Cricket - with more to follow."
It's likely that restrictions will be put on the amount of people who can attend events so that social distancing can take place.
Football has been played behind closed doors since its return and Dartford will start their play-off campaign this Sunday without supporters. Their games will be live streamed.
England are currently playing a three-match Test series against West Indies and that has also been taking place without fans.
The Football Association have welcomed the latest government update.
They said: "We welcome the government’s positive update today which means we and our football partners can step up our efforts to get fans back into stadiums as soon as possible.
"Supporters are the lifeblood of our national game, and that has been underlined by how much their absence has been felt at matches over the last month.
"We pay tribute to everyone that has worked so hard to get matches on in these challenging times, including the Emirates FA Cup semi-finals to be played at a behind-closed-doors Wembley Stadium this weekend, but elite-level football without fans is simply not the same.
"We will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities on how we can bring them back in a safe and secure manner, including any help we can provide to the proposed pilot events.
"This work will go hand in hand with the imminent return of grassroots football, our planning for the resumption of men’s and women’s international fixtures and the return of women’s football with the Barclays FA WSL and Women’s FA Cup."