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🧣 The Return | How we are making it safe for fans to come back

The measures, practices and procedures we will have in place when we open the doors to supporters once more

29 November 2020

We have missed you. And, while it might only be a return for 2,000 fans this weekend, we are very much looking forward to seeing you.

To help you familiarise yourself with your surroundings when you return to the Madejski, we wanted to make you fully aware of the measures we have taken to ensure those who are back in the stands remain safe and enjoy the best matchday experience we can offer…

Introducing our Safety Advisory Group 💙

Rarely before have fans taken much interest in our regular meetings with our Safety Advisory Group (SAG). And we don’t blame you.

But it is always our job as a club to ensure supporters’ matchday experience - from the start of fans’ journey to the stadium to leaving the site after the final whistle – is as safe and sensibly planned as possible.

The SAG is made up of participants from Reading Borough Council officials, Public Health England, Thames Valley Police, South Central Ambulance Service, St John Ambulance, Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service and our Supporters’ Trust (STAR) as well as Reading Football Club staff and a Sports Grounds Safety Authority Inspector.

With the operations we have in place and the measures implemented to keep our supporters safe throughout their visit to Madejski Stadium, the Safety Advisory Group has agreed in principle to approve a license and issued a Safety Certificate to permit a maximum of 2,000 supporters back to watch live football in RG2 – in line with the government’s Tier 2 restrictions.

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How the stadium will operate to keep supporters safe 🏟️

It might not feel like a normal matchday for those fans who are able to return to the stadium next Saturday. That is because we have altered how our stadium works to accommodate supporters in line with all the guidance we have been given.

Entry and exit to the East Stand will be via Royal Way (north) and Shooters Way (south) as normal. The gates will open 90 minutes before kick-off.

Fans should be prepared to have their tickets checked before they enter the stadium. And supporters may be required to have their temperature taken whilst they are on site.

Fans will be able to purchase food and drink and use external toilet facilities once they have had their ticket checked upon arrival.

There will be sanitising stations across the stadium footprint, both inside and outside the stadium itself. We would like to encourage supporters to sanitise their hands regularly.

Toilets on the concourse will be cleaned before, during and after the match and constantly monitored to ensure cleanliness standards are maintained throughout the matchday. Hand sanitisers and paper towel dispensers have been installed in all facilities.

Once you enter through the turnstile, where further sanitiser stations will be situated, supporters will be asked to go directly to their allocated seat. You will be allowed to leave your seat to visit toilet facilities on the concourses of course or to smoke, vape or purchase food and drink items outside the stadium compound until the end of the half-time break.

Medical staff from South Central Ambulance Service and St John Ambulance will be on site and wearing additional PPE so they can attend to any medical emergency which might arise during your visit.

Were any supporters to begin to suffer with the symptoms of COVID-19 during their visit to Madejski Stadium, we have a designated isolation room which can be used to ensure any such supporter can self-isolate immediately and be attended to by the medical professionals on site.

At the end of the match, supporters will exit the stadium as they entered it but via the blue emergency gates on the concourse rather than the turnstiles – as usual. We would advise fans remain patient where possible and take their time in leaving the stadium to ensure fans can leave in a measured way, staggered over a short period of time.

Your nearest steward... 😊

A larger than usual contingent of matchday stewards will be on hand to assist supporters on Saturday, helping our fans enjoy the matchday experience in what will still feel like very unusual circumstances.

Staff will be on hand to provide all the information fans need upon arrival, guidance and direction whilst also prioritising our fans’ safety by ensuring all the government guidelines are followed. If at any time you are unsure about where to go, please do ask a steward and, if they make a request to you, please do comply with requests they may make.

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Stadium signage 📺

Fans will notice an abundance of new signage on site, both in the concourses and the stadium bowl and in the surrounding approaches and pathways to the turnstiles.

Floor stickers, posters and PA announcements encouraging supporters to maintain social distancing at all times and wash your hands whilst on site, information messages on the TV screens on the concourses and the big screen inside...it will all be evident when you arrive at the Madejski.

Matchday catering 🍔

There will be no catering available to supporters on the concourses, which will be used solely for access to and from your seat in the stand and the nearest toilet facilities.

However, a limited menu of both food and non-alcoholic drinks will be sold in a designated area behind the East Stand which will be accessible to all before supporters once they have had their tickets checked but before they enter through the turnstiles.

For ease to create a safer environment, we encourage you to make cashless payments on site. Fans will be able to bring food and drink items purchased in these areas into the stadium, however alcoholic drinks will not be sold on site due to the Tier 2 COVID-19 restrictions.

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The Fanstore 🛒

The Fanstore will remain closed on matchdays at the Madejski and the Click & Collect service will also be suspended for home matchdays.

However, we will open a small mobile merchandise unit, located in a compound behind the East Stand which will also host the pre match catering units.

It will have a limited range of items on sale to supporters attending the game. However please note that, for ease and a safer environment, cashless payments are encouraged on site.

Hospitality 🍽️

The West Stand will remain a red zone for players, the managers and their coaching staff and access to the West Stand will be restricted to club staff, the media, scouts and a limited number of home and away club directors as it has been during behind closed doors football.

Therefore we do not plan to open the stadium to hospitality guests at present, however this will remain under review and in line with the restrictions under which we have to operate.

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Signatures, mascots and our ball person team 🧒

To ensure the players tunnel and the pitch are kept as sterile as possible, there will not be any provision for matchday mascots at present. We hope to welcome back matchday mascots to the Madejski as soon as it is safe to proceed.

We also ask fans not to approach any of the players or members of coaching staff before or after the game as signing autographs or posing for photographs is not presently possible.

We will continue to use existing matchday staff to deputise for the ball person team, to restrict the numbers within the stadium bowl on matchdays. If a ball comes into the stands, a member of club staff will collect the ball, sanitise it and return it to the field of play.

We will need your help too! 👪

As we have indicated throughout this article, the club have gone to every length to try to make supporting your team as safe, secure and enjoyable as possible. But we will need your help and co-operation. You will be responsible for staying safe, socially distanced at all times and helping us stage football in an environment which is still welcoming and warm regardless of the restrictions which are in place.

Face masks must be worn by all supporters over the age of 11, but may of course be removed whilst eating, drinking or during smoking or vaping intervals. If you are exempt from wearing a face mask, please click on the relevant link in the Spectators Code of Conduct when purchasing your ticket.

We would ask supporters not to bring bags to the stadium if possible, to avoid time-consuming searches when fans arrive at the stadium. If you need to bring a bag for your belongings, it would help the process if this bag was A4 in size or smaller and transparent to make random bag searches swift and simple.

Fans must remain in the seat that has been allocated to them to ensure social distancing is maintained throughout the course of the match.

If you have any more questions about the return of supporters to Madejski Stadium, feel free to contact supporterservices@readingfc.co.uk and we will aim to provide you with the answers as efficiently as possible.



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