Please stay away – Stoke City erect ring of steel around stadium before Middlesbrough clash

Stoke City have thrown a precautionary ring of steel around the bet365 Stadium ahead of today’s first home game since lockdown.

Protective fencing has been erected to ensure no unauthorised people breach security and pose a health risk to themselves and others.

The club is confident the vast majority of supporters won’t even think about getting close to this afternoon’s vital relegation clash against Middlesbrough – but are wisely taking no chances.

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Both chairman Peter Coates and captain Ryan Shawcross have this week urged fans to follow the nationwide example of supporters elsewhere in observing the stay-away rules because of coronavirus.

Today’s game will therefore be played behind closed doors for the first time on home soil in the club’s long history.

The atmosphere here outside the bet365 is eerily quiet as a sprinkling of mask-wearing stewards welcome the few people – somewhere between 250 and 300 in total -who are allowed to attend today’s big game.

Media numbers are strictly controlled and all entering the stadium must first pass a temperature test before being allowed to proceed.

Social distancing must be observed at all times and media are only allowed to leave their Press Box seat for the toilet. 

After-match interviews with managers Michael O’Neill and Neil Warnock will be on the touch line for broadcasters and via Zoom for those print journalists who can make it work.

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