Blackpool to be boosted by return of fans for play-off clash against Oxford United as government approves further easing of lockdown restrictions

Neil Critchley’s promotion chasers will be boosted by the return of Blackpool’s fans for their decisive play-off second leg against Oxford United.

By Matt Scrafton
Monday, 10th May 2021, 5:39 pm
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 5:40 pm

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed in his latest public briefing this evening that further easing of lockdown restrictions will go ahead as planned.

That means a limited number of spectators will be able to attend sporting events from May 17 onwards, with the PM proclaiming the turnstiles will be “unlocked” after a season of playing games behind closed doors.

While Blackpool are due to confirm official details this week, it’s understood around 4,000 Seasiders will be able to attend the second leg at Bloomfield Road.

It will be the first time Pool fans have been allowed inside the ground since September 2020, when 1,000 Seasiders attended the pilot event against Swindon Town.

It also means Sunday’s final-day win against Bristol Rovers should be the last time Blackpool play a competitive game in front of empty terraces.

Neil Critchley’s side travel to the Kassam Stadium on Tuesday, May 18 (6pm kick-off) for the first leg after beating Bristol Rovers 1-0 on Sunday to secure third place in the table.

Blackpool fans will return to Bloomfield Road for their decisive second leg

Oxford, meanwhile, leapfrogged Portsmouth into sixth place after thrashing Burton Albion 4-0, while Pompey were beaten 1-0 at home by Accrington Stanley.

The all-important second leg will be hosted at Bloomfield Road on Friday, May 21 (7.45pm kick-off).

Sunderland take on Lincoln City in the other semi-final clash, with all four ties screened live on Sky Sports.

Under the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, 10,000 fans will be allowed to attend sporting events from May 17 onwards, or alternatively 25 per cent of your capacity - whichever is lower.

In other news, there remains uncertainty over whether the play-off final will be played at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, May 30, as initially planned.

It's been reported that the three play-off finals could be moved to either a different date or a different venue to allow the UEFA Champions League final to be played at England’s national stadium.

However, it’s since emerged that a switch to Wembley looks increasingly unlikely after talks between UEFA and the government failed to overcome some major issues.

Manchester City and Chelsea are due to meet in the final in Istanbul, but there are concerns about supporters travelling to Turkey during the pandemic.

Supporters have been told not to travel after Turkey was placed on England's "red list".

UK citizens returning from red list countries are required to quarantine at a government-approved hotel for 10 days.

Such a quarantine would have an impact on players involved in Euro 2020, which starts on June 11.

The EFL are yet to comment, but it’s understood UEFA will make a decision by Wednesday.

It’s also been reported that Portugal could be identified as a potential alternative venue.

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