Small numbers of fans are to be allowed back into venues for NRL fixtures in NSW as of next week, with groups of up to 50 people to be allowed into corporate boxes at stadiums.
The NRL secured permission for spectators to return from the NSW Government as of round five of the competition, arguing that if pubs and bars could reopen with rules around physical distancing, then professional rugby league should also be allowed to have groups of up to 50 people in corporate boxes, adhering to rules around having one person per four metre².
Welcoming the approval, Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V'landys told AAP “we're very pleased the (NSW) Government have corrected the anomaly, because this was allowed in pubs, clubs and racecourses but not sports stadiums.
"It's a good start and our next step once we've done that correctly is to try to convince government(s) to allow us to have spectators in seated areas from July 1 or shortly afterwards.”
The first game of round five is a Manly-Broncos clash at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, which is now expected to be the first game to allow fans under the new socially distanced measures.
While the new measures will allow club sponsors to return to games, V'landys is reportedly still hopeful of getting club members back in the grounds in July.
While the Central Coast Stadium has limited corporate areas, Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium - which will host the Parramatta-Panthers local derby next Friday - has enough corporate facilities to host numerous groups of attendees, with the NRL to submit a biosecurity plan to the NSW government early next week.
V'landys told NRL.com that a bid for a similar crowd return in Queensland and Victoria will be put to those respective governments if spectators can be successfully managed in NSW next weekend.
The move will allow club sponsors to return to matches, with the ruling applied only to food and drink areas such as corporate suites.
If spectators are allowed, Bankwest Stadium is reported to be working on a ticketing system to ensure fans are spaced out appropriately between seats.
Image: The NRL's Fan In The Stand initiative has allowed fans to pay $22 each to have their portraits placed in seats at empty venues during round three and four of the competition.
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