The possibility of allowing UK crowds back into stadiums was dealt a major blow on Friday following an announcement by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Limited crowds were due to be allowed attend a small number of sporting events across England this weekend, but Johnson has pulled the plug on those plans following a spike in coronavirus cases.

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A small number of fans had been allowed through the doors on the opening day of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield on Friday morning, while over 4,000 spectators were set to attend the Glorious Goodwood Festival on Saturday.

Fans were also due at two two-day county cricket matches this weekend. Small crowds had already been permitted to the two-day cricket meeting between Surrey and Middlesex, which started last Sunday.

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However the UK government have now taken a step back by confirming sporting events must go ahead without crowds present this weekend.

It follows a spike in coronavirus cases which has led to general restrictions being reintroduced to some part of northern England.

“Pilots of larger crowds at sports venues will not take place,” Johnson said at a news conference.

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“I said from May we would not hesitate to put on the brakes at the slightest sign that the numbers were going in the wrong direction.”

This latest setback places further uncertainly on when crowds will be allowed to attend larger sporting events.

Johnson had previously stated that supporters may be allowed back into stadiums by October.

The Gallagher Premiership season is set to restart later this month, while international rugby is pencilled in for a return in late October.

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The Pro14 is also due to return later this month, with fixtures set to be played behind closed doors.

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