The Premier League will continue exploring the possibility of Covid certification to gain entry to stadiums next season even though the government has no immediate plans to make them mandatory.
Certification – providing proof of full vaccination, a recent negative test or immunity via the NHS App – is being trialled at events such as Wimbledon and Euro 2020 which are part of the government’s ongoing Events Research Programme.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that certification would not be mandatory for sports venues in England as they prepare to return to full capacity from July 19, but it is understood the English top flight’s clubs could still use the system when the new season starts next month.
The Premier League’s ambition is for full stadiums for the whole 2021/22 season.
The plans are still at an exploratory stage and the No 1 priority remains fan safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The league joined forces with nine other sports bodies in April to support Covid certification as a “credible option” to enable full venues once coronavirus restrictions had been eased.
The league’s executive director Bill Bush said at the time that certification would be an “acceptable burden”, with the alternative being tiny crowds and a ban on away fans.
Certification will not be mandated, but the league will be keen to explore it as a means to ensuring stadiums can remain fully open even if the overall picture with regards to the pandemic were to worsen in the autumn and winter.
The government is set to make a final decision on the easing of restrictions next Monday.
The Premier League said in a statement issued on Monday night: “Fans have been hugely missed so we welcome today’s announcement by the Government, and are looking forward to full stadiums in the 2021/22 season.
“As we move towards a Government decision on Step 4 of the roadmap and beyond, we will continue to work with football stakeholders and relevant public authorities to ensure that the return to full capacity is done in a way that keeps everyone safe.”
The EFL was also among the group of governing bodies who expressed support for Covid certification in April.
A spokesperson for the league said on Tuesday: “Discussions remain ongoing in respect of a variety of different matters in preparation for the new season following the Government’s announcement that restrictions on capacity are expected to be lifted later this month.
“While a number of matters including general preparations, protocols in place across the league and the streaming of matches require further discussion, we know that all EFL clubs are ready to reopen their doors and welcome back their supporters.”