Great Britain

NRL given permission to have small crowds at games in NSW from next week

The NRL will have crowds return in small numbers from next week with the NSW government allowing corporate boxes to reopen.

The state government told the NRL on Friday corporate boxes would fall into the same category as pubs and clubs pending the approval of a biosecurity plan.

It means each corporate room will be able to have one person per four square metres from next weekend, with up to 50 people allowed per box.

The decision on the NRL crowds was made public just hours after the NSW government and police went to the supreme court to try to prevent a Black Lives and Indigenous Lives Matter protest in Sydney from going ahead, due to coronavirus.

Venues such as Bankwest Stadium have multiple boxes and lounges that can be split into different sections on top of their corporate boxes, meaning the number of attendees could be able to climb much higher.

The move will allow club sponsors to return to matches, with the ruling applied only to food and drink areas such as corporate suites. The rules will only apply to NSW-based matches.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys is still hopeful of club members then being able to return as part of capped crowds from 1 July.

“We’re very pleased the government have corrected the anomaly, because this was allowed in pubs, clubs and racecourses but not sports stadiums,” V’landys told AAP.

The news comes as a big win for struggling clubs, who are doing their utmost to fulfil sponsorship deals through the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the NRL and stadiums are continuing to map out their plans for a return to crowds. Much has work has already been done at Bankwest Stadium on traffic flow with the entry and exit points of the ground.

A ticketing system is planned to ensure fans are spaced out appropriately between seats.

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