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Fans to return for Leicester - Southampton FA Cup semifinal

Danny Higginbotham and Tim Howard recap Sunday's Premier League action, as Leicester and Man United grabbed key wins but couldn't make up any ground on white-hot Man City.

Fans will soon (hopefully) return to Premier League grounds all across England, beginning with the FA Cup semifinal between Leicester City and Southampton at Wembley Stadium on April 18.

[ MORE: Five subs, full stadiums to be allowed at this summer’s Euros ]

As the game is being used as a test event ahead of the wider-spread, limited-capacity return of fans following the easing of lockdown restrictions, neither Leicester nor Southampton will be permitted to have their own fans attend the game to prevent unnecessary travel. Instead, 4,000 local residents will be selected to attend FA Cup semifinal no. 2 — the first sporting event held with spectators since December, when the short-lived tier system was scrapped and all games went behind closed doors again.

Part — and perhaps a very large one, at that — of the idea behind the test event is one massive motivating factor: the desire to have a “large crowd” in attendance for the Euro 2020 final, also at Wembley Stadium, on July 11. That date is set to come less than three weeks after lockdown restrictions are lifted in the whole of England. It has not yet been determined how many fans will be able to attend sporting events in the days and weeks immediately thereafter.

[ MORE: Championship focus: Norwich, Watford set for PL return, but who joins them? ]

The current plan in England calls for a return of 25 percent capacity or 10,000 fans (whichever number is smaller), beginning on May 17. The final day of the 2020-21 Premier League season is set for May 23, meaning the final 10 games are currently on track to be played in front of limited-capacity crowds.

With the tournament already postponed a full 12 months from last summer, UEFA appear desperate for fans to attend the tournament in large numbers this summer ahead of the 2021-22 season, when a number of countries could be past the point of attendance restrictions. Wembley will also host both Euro 2020 semifinals, on July 6 and 7.

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