Manchester United's hopes of having fans back at Old Trafford for the start of the new season have been dented after the UK government and the Premier League both urged caution over test events.
Talks have taken place over permission to use United's game against Crystal Palace on Sept. 19 as a test event and allow up to 12,000 supporters inside the stadium. However, on Wednesday, both Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted test events would have to be pushed back following a rise in coronavirus cases in the UK.
"We have always been subject to government decisions and that hasn't been made yet," Masters said.
"The Premier League and Premier League clubs are ready and able to go ahead with test events and prepare to open turnstiles on Oct. 1 if allowed to do so.
"September was always going to be challenging, with bumps in the road, but we stand ready, willing and able.
"We have three priorities for this season. The first is to complete it and get 380 games away on time. The second is to get fans back inside stadiums and the third is to return to the football economy to full health. I remain very optimistic that can be achieved."
Fans have not been allowed to attend games at Old Trafford since the 2-0 victory over Manchester City on March 8 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sources have told ESPN the club will be guided by local and national authorities but want to be ready to open up the stadium as quickly as possible once they get the green light. United are hopeful of reopening Old Trafford at 30% of its 76,000 capacity once they get the go ahead and the club have promised to distribute tickets "in a fair and equitable way" when the time comes.
A United spokesperson said: "We are working with the Premier League, DCMS, SGSA and the local authorities on planning for a safe return of fans to matches at Old Trafford as soon as it is permitted.
"We are preparing for a large number of possible eventualities and reviewing options for the first test event and we will only confirm this once the relevant local and national approvals have been agreed.
"We are committed to offering our fans support and flexibility as we finalise our season ticket plans for the year ahead.
"For matches where there is restricted capacity, tickets will be distributed in a fair and equitable way. Finally, our overall priority is to create a safe environment at the stadium for fans, players and staff."