Football fans speak of ‘surreal’ atmosphere at FA Cup semi-final

Football fans have spoken of the “surreal” atmosphere while watching a game at Wembley Stadium on Sunday as part of a Government programme to ensure the safe return of live entertainment.

An audience of 4,000 were present at the ground in northwest London to witness the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester City and Southampton.

Spectators said that although the atmosphere was noticeably different to normal, it was “amazing” to watch live football again.

It comes as part of a large research project looking at how audiences can safely attend venues again, with music events to follow in the coming weeks.

Before the football match, spectators had to test negative for coronavirus in a lateral flow test (LFT) – supervised where possible – taken in the previous 36 hours.

They were also asked to conduct a PCR coronavirus swab test.

The FA Cup final at Wembley on May 15 will see 21,000 spectators.

Southampton fan John Lush, 40, who wore red and white striped socks to the stadium in support of his team, told the PA news agency: “It’s surreal to be honest, it’s obviously different to normal but a big step back to normality.

“There’s been some good banter between the fans where I am, it’s all good natured and there have been a few diehards on both sides trying to sing from time to time.”

He said that everything had been “well organised” and that it was “good to be back”.

Jack Devonport, 20, a student from Wembley, said the atmosphere had been “flat” because most of the spectators were neutrals.

He added: “Just 4,000 in an 80,000-seater stadium isn’t enough.

“There’s no roar from the crowd when a ball’s launched over the top or when someone wins a corner.

“But it’s amazing to see it live again, it’s completely different to watching on TV.

“The adrenaline you get despite having a small crowd can’t be replicated.”

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