An important milestone in the history of the confrontation between football and COVID-19 took place.

After 266 days, fans returned to the matches of the English Football League - this news could have passed unnoticed against the background of the UEFA Champions League matches, but its importance for world football cannot be overestimated.

Strictly limited groups of fans could be present in the stands for Luton and Wycombe from the Championship, Charlton and Shrewsbury from the First League, and Cambridge from the Second League. The easing of restrictions associated with strict social distance came against the backdrop of the end of a nationwide quarantine in England, which took place on Tuesday, December 1.

At the same time, English Third League clubs continued to play their matches behind closed doors, and in the English Premier League, London Chelsea will have their next match, against Leeds this weekend, with 2,000 fans in the stands.

Brunton Park, which is home to the second-league Carlisle, was the first EFL site to open their fan turnstiles ahead of the game against Salford City.

A little later, Charlton, in the presence of 2,000 fans, lost to MK Dons with a score of 0: 1.

At this match, it was possible to most clearly observe the new algorithms of public behavior upon arrival at the stadium, reports The Guardian.

Each fan was given a separate time period to go through the ticket and temperature control before entering the stadium, after which the club pampered each visitor with free hot chocolate, and in the stands the seats were occupied strictly in a checkerboard pattern.

Even for the stadium security staff, returning fans was a celebration. In particular, the publication cites the reaction of one of them:

“I miss my Saturdays. To me, people do drugs, people do drink. This is my drug. You know what I mean? It’s my pressure-cooker. Being at work, you can’t let go. Life can be a bit shit sometimes. This is my release.”