Wasps will have 200 fans at the Ricoh Arena for Saturday’s Premiership semi-final at home to Bristol Bears, but their only view of the match will be watching on television indoors, with blinds drawn across the windows so as to abide by government guidelines.
No crowds are permitted at big sporting events in Britain, in government measures to restrict the spread of Covid-19.
But Wasps have a licence to provide indoor hospitality at their 32,000-capacity stadium in Coventry, and in a situation the club’s chief commercial officer Adam Benson described as “weird, but brilliant”, 200 supporters are paying £60 each for a two-course lunch in the Premier Lounge on the arena’s second floor, with no direct view of the pitch.
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When: Saturday, October 10, 2020 · 06:30:00 PM · Astana
Duration: 4 hours
Who can attend? Everyone
Groups of up to six from the same household bubble will arrive at staggered times from 11.20am onwards, ahead of a 1.30pm kick-off, and watch the live TV coverage of the semi-final on three large screens and several 55-inch TVs around the room.
Automatic blinds will be drawn down to cut off the normal view of the pitch and stewards on doors will prevent anyone attempting to enter the bowl of the stadium where the only people permitted are the players, coaches, support staff, club directors and members of the media.
The Bears claimed their place in the top four on the final day of the regular season with a 36-7 victory over London Irish and are now looking for their first win over Wasps since 2006 to make it to two finals in 2019/20 with the European Challenge Cup final coming up next Friday.
Both teams are in top form, but Wasps are the hottest side in the Premiership at the moment. The question is can anyone stop the wave of momentum the club are riding?
In the other semi-final, Bath Rugby travel to Exeter Chiefs with kick-off at 4.30onm.
The local-authority safety advisory group approved the event as a trial, and clubs around rugby and in other sports are likely to be keeping tabs on it.
“I think we have moved into a world where filling in declarations and using the NHS track-and-trace app has become the norm, and people expect to see it,” said Benson, who worked previously at Reading FC and Gloucester Rugby.
“An announcer will give housekeeping rules on arrival and there have been numerous emails to those coming along. People have been brilliant about responding quickly, filling in everything and they are just looking forward to coming along and being back in the stadium and part of the matchday experience again.