Top football clubs checking Covid passports say they have found a high level of compliance among fans as the Premier League instructed them to continue with the inspections.
Clubs spoken by Sports post say the vast majority of supporters have not objected to showing a vaccination certificate or the results of a lateral flow test, or even medical waivers.
One club said attendance was close to 100% among those stopped and questioned, as supporters want to make every effort to ensure they can attend.
The Premier League’s Covid health protocols and rules are the strictest in British sport
“It was very positive,” said a club source. “There has been little resistance.”
“Fans were fantastic and understanding,” said a director of another Premier League club.
“There is a large group of fans who like the checks because it gives them the confidence that they won’t get infected.
“We don’t want games to be cancelled. We want to protect the players and the staff and make it safe for the fans. Why shouldn’t we? What’s the negative?’
Clubs carried out the checks in preparation for the introduction of the mandatory use of Covid passports at matches from next month.
Clubs will continue to deploy Covid marshals at matches to conduct random checks on supporters
The government unexpectedly withdrew from that plan this week, but yesterday the Premier League advised clubs to continue checking supporters’ credentials anyway.
For most clubs, the checks were very light-hearted, with no suggestion that anyone will be denied entry if they do not have the necessary paperwork.
Even where entry is dependent on Covid certification, such as at Chelsea, it is not clear how many supporters, if any, have been barred.
However, clubs are already bracing for the prospect of mandatory Covid passports sometime in the winter. The government now plans to introduce the measure if the infection rate rises and clubs are notified just a week in advance.
Premier League asks fans to ensure they are fully vaccinated
At that time, fans would only be allowed to enter stadiums if they have had two vaccines. Lateral flow tests would not suffice.
The Premier League is urging supporters to ensure they are double stabbed.
This week they released a video of the deputy medical director telling fans to get their vaccinations, among other public health measures.
“Covid hasn’t gone away,” said Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, who supports Boston United. “And if we as supporters want to continue to attend matches, we have to do our part to keep ourselves and other people safe.”
He added: “Remember, the best way to protect yourself and others is to get two doses of the vaccine.”
It takes 10 weeks from the first vaccination to obtain a Covid passport. If a fan were stung this week, it would be December before their passports would be active.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has made a video for the competition urging fans to get vaccinated
There is concern within the game that fans have not clocked in that stadium access could become completely dependent on full vaccination.
“I would put money into the fact that most fans think lateral flow testing is included in what comes next,” said a well-placed source. “Supporters have to be ready. The Prime Minister has informed them.’
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that ‘Plan A’ to contain the spread of the coronavirus this winter was based on giving booster shots to vulnerable people and those over 50, and expanding vaccination to children.
However, Johnson said that if the number of coronavirus infections rises, ‘Plan B’ is to introduce additional measures, including mandatory Covid passports in major sports stadiums, with a capacity of more than 10,000, as well as in some indoor venues and nightclubs.
With a 10,000 threshold, around 74 clubs would be affected, including all in the Premier League and at the very bottom of the EFL to League Two.
There are still some questions to be answered about the introduction of Covid passports – based on vaccination.
Clubs will want to know if the government plans to include children in the scheme, if it is implemented. And there are concerns about medical waivers as clubs are unclear as to whether they have the right to demand proof of people’s health status and deny them entry if they fail to produce it.