No change of date for Preston North End's visit to Bournemouth

Preston North End’s long trip to Bournemouth next week will stay on its original date despite the lifting of lockdown the following day.

Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 12:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 12:42 pm
Preston North End will visit Bournemouth's Vitality Stadium next Tuesday

They face the Cherries at the Vitality Stadium next Tuesday night – their first trip since a 3-2 win in the League Cup in 2016.

England will be in the last few hours of lockdown then, with fans able to return to some stadiums in small numbers the following day.

The EFL have said they would let clubs move games from the Tuesday night to the Wednesday if that meant they could get fans back in.

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However, Bournemouth are having to keep the game on Tuesday as they play on the Friday night at Barnsley in a televised game. Were they to switch to the Wednesday, it would give them only 48 hours’ recovery time.

The return of supporters to stadiums in small numbers is dependant on which tier a club’s region falls into.

A maximum of 4,000 fans would be allowed in a ground in a tier 1 area.

In tier 2, the capacity would be limited to 2,000. But in tier 3, games will continue to be played behind closed doors.

Which regions fall into which tiers will be announced by the Government on Thursday.

North End are waiting to see which tier Preston and Lancashire fall in. They were tier 3 ahead of the lockdown last month.

But clubs officials do have to put plans in place if the city was to be placed in tier 2, which would allow a 2,000 crowd inside Deepdale.

PNE had hoped to have fans back in the ground in October, with a capacity around the 6,000 to 7,000 mark.

But the Government halted plans for the return of fans at any ground when Covid-19 rose sharply during September.

The last time North End played in front of supporters at Deepdale was on March 7 against QPR – football was halted the following week and resumed behind closed doors on June 20.

When they drew 2-2 with Norwich at Carrow Road in September, 1,000 home fans watched the game as part of a Government pilot scheme.

The return of some fans from December 2 has been welcomed by the EFL.

Speaking on Radio Four’s Today programme, EFL chairman Rick Parry said: “We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement because clearly we’ve been pushing for the return of fans for some considerable time.

“We have to build upon it because what we are really looking forward to is getting fans back in more substantial numbers but this is a really welcome start. It’s great news for fans, they’ve been missing their football.”

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