Community Shield could be used as ‘test event’ to allow fans back into grounds

The Community Shield could be used as a test event to determine whether or not to let fans return to football stadiums.

According to The Times, football authorities are weighing up the idea as they work out how to safely allow spectators back into grounds across the UK.

As it stands the Community Shield could be scrapped altogether as next season's fixture calendar is beginning to look increasingly congested.

A date of September 12 was put forward to start the new domestic season, but that will prove difficult with international fixtures confirmed to be taking place a few days prior.

The season's curtain-raiser at Wembley could therefore be removed from the football calendar, unless fans are able to attend.

Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that social distancing guidelines could be reduced to one-metre from July 4, which raises the prospect of stadiums being at least half full when football returns.

Clubs nationwide are desperate for football to return with fans to ease the financial burden they currently find themselves under.

One Premier League chairman told The Times: "Project Restart has begun very successfully but it has made us all realise just how important fans are to the product. We need them back as soon as we possibly can.”

It is thought all Premier League clubs are supportive of the Community Shield going ahead if it can be used as a test for the safe return of spectators.

Champions-elect Liverpool will be involved against the winners of the FA Cup final, which will be decided on August 1.

When the game could take place is still to be decided though, as England are among the teams back in UEFA Nations League or World Cup qualifying action on September 8.

The Community Shield would therefore likely have to take place beyond that date, which would begin to eat into a campaign already jam-packed with fixtures.

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Already football chiefs are under pressure to fit all competitions into a reduced timeframe.

The match was one of a number of topics on the agenda for a meeting between Premier League clubs held on Tuesday.

It could even be moved from its traditional Wembley venue to a different ground if it helps the authorities better monitor safety concerns such as travel on public transport.

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