Leeds Rhinos fans urged to plan ahead for Sunday's clash with Hull FC - here's what to expect at Headingley's first game with a crowd in 14 months
After 14 months, fans will finally be back at Emerald Headingley this weekend, but they can expect a different experience to the last time they entered the ground.
Headingley’s capacity has been set at 4,000 for Sunday’s visit of Hull and the meeting with St Helens on June 11. That means all 8,000 season ticket holders will get an opportunity to attend one of the next two games.
Rhinos have not played in front of a crowd since a 66-12 win over Toronto Wolfpack on March 3 last year, though Headingley has staged 32 matches behind closed doors.
As operations director, Sue Ward is in charge of getting the stadium ready for the return of crowds and in a message to fans, via the Evening Post, she urged everyone attending on Sunday to help ensure the event goes safely and smoothly.
Outlining new matchday procedures, Ward said: “Something we’d like to stress to fans is the changes and the logistics start at home. Your journey really needs to be thought about before you leave home - are you well, are you displaying any Covid symptoms, should you or anybody in your household be isolating ?
“Plan your journey well and safely, travel sustainably if you can and really think about your homeward journey as well.”
The club have distributed electronic tickets for Sunday, which can be printed at home or downloaded on to a smart phone.
“Season ticket passes won’t work for this game,” Ward confirmed. “You definitely need your smart phone or home-printed ticket - and before you leave home, please really familiarise yourself with what’s on the ticket.
“It will give you your entry slot time, as arrival at the stadium will be staggered. You need to look at what’s your entry time and which turnstile you should use, as well.”
Face coverings must be worn when entering and moving around the stadium and Ward said one-way routes will be in place. Food and drink will be available, but must be ordered and paid for in advance and customers will be given a time slot for collection.
“This is to avoid queues and congregating in the bars and concourses,” Ward explained.
“We can’t stress enough that fans need to think about the whole journey, including drinks and snacks.”
There will be no Golden Gamble tickets or matchday programmes on sale, but hand sanitiser will be available throughout the ground and in the car parks.
Ward said fans’ exit from the stadium will also be staggered and urged: “We really need people to listen to the stewards and staff.
“If we do ask you to be patient before you leave, we’d really appreciate that.
“The staff in the stadium have worked tirelessly for months to create and provide a safe matchday experience and setting up the stadium in readiness for fans coming back, so please do listen to them.”
Ward added: “Something else I’d really like to stress is please do respect our neighbours in Headingley.
“We’d ask everybody to leave the stadium quietly and take their litter home with them, or leave it with us.”
But above all that, Ward insisted: “Our big message to fans is welcome back.”
She said: “It is fantastic we can open up the stadium again and welcome people here.
“The fans have supported us so well throughout the pandemic, so we’re delighted we can get them back and we can’t wait for that roar that rings throughout the stadium.
“We have really missed that.
“For us it is just one stage closer to a bit more normality - it is the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We realise there may be some social distancing guidelines that might not be lifted on June 21, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.”
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