'Full steam ahead for full crowds!': Rick Parry on return of fans

‘Full steam ahead for full crowds!’: The Carabao Cup final ‘went incredibly well’ as a test event for supporters’ return to football, says EFL chairman Rick Parry, as clubs plan to pack the stands for the new season in August

  • A crowd of 8,000 was in attendance at last Sunday’s Carabao Cup showdown
  • There were 2,000 fans from both Man City and Tottenham in attendance
  • The other 4,000 tickets were split between local residents and NHS staff
  • It followed the test event at the FA Cup clash between Leicester & Southampton
  • EFL chairman Rick Parry has now admitted it’s ‘full steam ahead for full crowds’ 

EFL chairman Rick Parry is looking forward to ‘full crowds’ from next season after admitting the Carabao Cup final test event went ‘extremely well’.

A total of 8.000 fans descended on Wembley for the Carabao Cup showdown between Manchester City and Tottenham last Sunday afternoon, which Pep Guardiola’s side 1-0.

There were 2,000 fans from both clubs inside the national stadium last weekend, with an extra 4,000 tickets split between local residents and the NHS staff – in what was another test event by the UK Government to trial the return of supporters amid the Covid pandemic.

A total of 8,000 fans were in attendance as Man City beat Tottenham in the Carabao Cup final

Sunday’s showdown came a week after 4,000 local residents and key workers were in attendance to watch Leicester beat Southampton 1-0 in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

And following the latest test event at the Carabao Cup final, EFL chief Parry admitted at the EFL Awards on Wednesday that the latest test event was a huge success and that football can expect ‘full steam ahead’ for full capacity crowds from the beginning of next season. 

Parry’s comments will come as a massive boost to clubs at all levels of the English football pyramid, who have largely been without fans in attendance since the Covid pandemic wrecked the sporting calendar last March.

But things appear to be returning to some level of normality and last Sunday’s test event was hugely welcomed by fans across England.  

The FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton, and the Carabao Cup final are two of seven events across the sport and entertainment industry being used by the Government to assess the feasibility of large gatherings, in a pilot that will conclude with the FA Cup final on May 15. 

Phil Foden dribbles with the ball as City fans watch on in the background at Wembley

But while Parry has admitted he was very happy with how Sunday went, the FA and EFL will be kept in the dark over the success of the Covid test events staged at Wembley until the end of next month.

There are no plans for any of the data collected to be shared with governing bodies until it has all been given to the Government at the end of May.

But the FA are particularly anxious to gain an insight into how the trials are progressing, as their success will be crucial to their plans for Euro 2020. 

The governing body have committed to opening Wembley at 25 per cent capacity for England’s three group matches against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic, and want to move to between 50 per cent and 100 per cent for the knockout games at the stadium, which include a last-16 tie, both semi-finals and the final.

UEFA have given the FA a deadline of June 2 to finalise their plans for the knockout stage. 

EFL chief Rick Parry (R) has given big hope to fans, saying it’s ‘full steam ahead for full crowds’

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