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Premier League fans to return before end of the season but Tottenham face cup disappointment

Premier League supporters are set to return to stadiums in limited numbers for the final weekend of the season but Tottenham Hotspur fans are unlikely to be allowed at Wembley for April’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.

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Prime minister Boris Johnson set out the government’s exit from the latest lockdown at Westminster this afternoon, with further details set to be published later today in addition to a press conference at 7pm.

And while there is a proposed route back to normality, including test events in April, it will not be until May 17 that the government are planning to allow a limited number of fans to attend supporting events.

It is hoped that 10,000 supporters may be in a position to attend the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 15 as a test event, with top-flight clubs set to be told that they can welcome a restricted number of fans back in for their final round of games.

There may be an application process, as seen in late summer, for events to host a pilot but early reports indicate that Spurs’ game against City will not be selected despite the EFL hoping to persuade the government otherwise.

The 10,000-capacity rule will be applied to stadiums that can hold 40,000 people or more, with smaller grounds allowed to fill up to 25% of seats.

Early December saw a brief return of 2,000 supporters to games before a rapid rise in cases across the country led to another lockdown.

The Premier League’s final set of games are set to be played on the weekend of May 23 and the implementation of socially-distanced matchdays will likely be straightforward considering the success of the brief window before Christmas.

Arsenal, Fulham and West Ham United will be at home that weekend. Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur are away.

The infection rate, death toll and vaccine rollout will determine the lifting of restrictions across the country but should the government roadmap go to plan there will also be fans in attendance for the European Championship games held at Wembley in June – and no social restrictions in place by the time final takes place in north-west London in mid-July.

Last week the Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said that they had not given up on some fans being allowed back in before the end of the current campaign but conceded it will be next season before significant crowds return.

“No one can say because this pandemic has a way of surprising you, as it did over Christmas, but we’ve not lost hope we will see a few back this season,” Masters said at a Financial Times Business of Football last week.

“Certainly next season I hope it opens up quickly, we can work with the government again, and get fans back into stadiums in real numbers.”