'Disgusting': Move to let footy fans return sparks outrage

Fans will be allowed back at NRL matches in round five but under strict conditions. Pic: Getty

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.

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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.

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.

While the news has been welcomed by many rugby league fans, other members of the public have been left astounded by the decision.

Social media users are flabbergasted that the NSW government has given the green light for crowds to return to the NRL - albeit in a limited capacity - when they are blocking rallies planned in Sydney over the weekend.

Thousands are expected at protests in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart on Saturday to show solidarity with the movement and African American man George Floyd who died while being arrested in Minneapolis.

The Australian protests are also a show of support to the Aboriginal community to highlight high levels of indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody.

However, on Friday evening the NSW Supreme Court ruled against the Black Lives Matter protest going ahead in Sydney.

The decision came after anticipated numbers for the rally put the risk to public health in jeopardy with regard to the coronavirus crisis.

Needless to say, plenty of angry observers took to social media to criticise the NSW government for allowing NRL fans back at games from next weekend.

Decision follows similar move for pubs, clubs

ANZ Stadium, which has the biggest number of corporate boxes, is unlikely to be used as the NRL has locked in its stadia plan until round nine.

Even then, it would require clubs such as South Sydney and Canterbury to negotiate new deals to stage matches at the Olympic precinct.

Both clubs had already agreed to move out of ANZ Stadium this month under the state government's previous stadia plan that included renovating the venue.

It is understood the government's decision to redirect the money means both clubs are in discussions on a possible return.

NRL matches have been played behind closed doors under strict virus guidelines.

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

"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 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.

with AAP