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Government 'hopeful' Wembley will be full for Euro 2020 matches
25 May 2021, 15:58
Euro 2020 matches at Wembley could be at full capacity after a government minister said he was "hopeful" stadiums could completely reopen by 21 June.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the London Evening Standard he hoped the date would see the full-scale reopening of stadiums, theatres and other such venues.
It comes following a review of the UK's Covid test event pilots, which included a reduced-capacity FA Cup semi-final at Wembley and a nightclub opening in Liverpool.
He hailed the trials as a "real success" after they recorded only 15 positive coronavirus cases among the 58,000 people who took part.
Better still for football fans, there were no positive results from the two matches at the national stadium, and likewise from the Brit Awards at London's O2 Arena.
There were also no cases at all after Leicester City and Chelsea fans visited Wembley for the FA Cup final.
Mr Dowden also told the paper the government would be running a second round of larger trials ahead of the full reopening of entertainment venues.
The purpose of this would be to gain a better understanding of how to manage events and audiences safely, and assessing what role Covid passports could play.
It is understood European Championship matches at the country's largest football stadium are likely to be included in the next study, raising the likelihood that every seat of the 90,000 available could be filled by the time the competition kicks off.
“I hope by 21 June we will be lighting up the West End again, having full stadiums and bringing light and Technicolor back into our national life again,” the culture secretary said.
England will be facing Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic for group matches at Wembley, which will also host both semi-finals and the final.
The fixture against the Czech national team comes one day after all lockdown restrictions in the UK are scheduled to be lifted under stage four of the government's roadmap.
Previously, it was expected that the national stadium would be operating at a quarter of its capacity - around 22,500.
However, the prospect of every seat being occupied will come as welcome news for football fans and the England side following the announcement of the 33-man provisional squad for Euro 2020.
Brighton's Ben White, Everton's Ben Godfrey and Sheffield United's Aaron Ramsdale received their first England call-ups, while Spurs' Eric Dier, Harry Winks and Dele Alli, Leicester's James Maddison, Southampton's Danny Ings, Leeds' Patrick Bamford and Burnley's Nick Pope have all missed out.
Ahead of naming his final #EURO2020 squad next week, Gareth Southgate has selected 33 players to join up with the #ThreeLions from this weekend as our preparations for this summer's tournament get under way.— England (@England) May 25, 2021
Full list of players picked in Gareth Southgate's provisional England team:
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Ben Godfrey (Everton), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (West Ham United, on loan from Manchester United), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham United), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Mason Greenwood (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)