SINGAPORE - Football fans will be able to catch a game from the stadium stands on Saturday for the first time since Singapore Premier League (SPL) matches were played behind closed doors on March 14.
A maximum of 200 fans - 150 home and 50 away - will be allowed into the stands at Our Tampines Hub to watch Tampines Rovers take on Geylang International on Saturday (Dec 5), subject to mandatory Covid-19 testing and safe-distancing protocols.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong made the announcement in a Facebook post on Wednesday, saying: "Our fans are the lifeblood of sporting events.
"It has been 6 weeks since the AIA Singapore Premier League (SPL) resumed. Whilst many have gone online to watch the action, it is really not quite the same as being in the stadium, in the thick of the action.
"This is part of a pilot for fans to enjoy a live match experience in a safe manner. I know this will excite many SPL fans out there, especially since we could see a local team being crowned SPL champions for the first time since 2014!"
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) confirmed in a statement that those with tickets are required to undergo a free Antigen Rapid Test (ART) on-site at three staggered timings from 2.15pm to 5pm before the 5.30pm kickoff. Latecomers may be denied entry into the venue.
Fans who want to attend the match can only buy their tickets at fas.org.sg/tickets
Tampines fan Pang Jia Tai, 28, visited the website to buy tickets after hearing the news. "Supporting your team from the stands is definitely a different feeling from watching the game from anywhere else. I miss it for sure," he said.
"Having the ART as a form of safeguard also provides some reassurance to fans and organisers, and hopefully things will gradually open up more in local football."
The 25th season of the SPL kicked off on Feb 29, and crowds of over 2,500 watched matches between Albirex Niigata and Geylang International, and Tanjong Pagar United and Lion City Sailors. However, only six games were played before matches had to be played behind closed doors as a preventive measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
FAS president Lim Kia Tong said that a successful pilot would be critical for the return of fans at all venues next season.
He added: "While they have been able to follow the action through the live broadcasts, nothing can replace the feeling of cheering your team on in the flesh from the stands. Of course, it is imperative that they adhere strictly to all the necessary measures to ensure the safety of themselves and others present.
"The presence of supporters will also be a morale boost for the teams and players."