PUBS are looking forward to welcoming back Oxford United fans ahead of this evening’s play-off clash against Blackpool.

Yesterday, pubs were finally able to open indoors after being forced to cater for punters just outside since April 12.

The inside reopening has fallen into place ahead of a huge night for the U’s, with the second leg taking place on Friday.

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Ryan Davies, of The Black Swan in East Oxford, said 95 per cent of the city would be watching the match.

He said: “It’s going to be brilliant to welcome the fans back and we’re looking forward to welcoming them with open arms.

“We’ve got the TVs on inside and anther outside in the garden.

“We’ve also had an artist design a mural which looks really good in the garden.”

The mural designed by local artist ‘The Big Orange M’ at The Black Swan. Picture: The Black Swan

The mural designed by local artist ‘The Big Orange M’ at The Black Swan. Picture: The Black Swan

Mr Davies said that although restrictions are still in place, being able to reopen inside is a ‘step in the right direction’.

“Running a pub with Covid restrictions means you still have to manage that but it’s going to be a big night on Friday, especially if they win,” he said.

“I think 95 per cent of the city will be watching on the telly and hopefully it’s a good night for the fans and the team.

“We’ve needed some good weather recently but what we’ve had for the last few weeks has been the classic great British weather with all the rain.”

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Chris Meeson, landlord at The Masons Arms in Headington, watched his first United game aged six.

The 53-year-old will be going to the Kassam Stadium after getting a ticket, although acknowledged work would make Friday’s game a little more tricky.

He said: “We’re booked up and it’s got to be a maximum of six to a table, and spaced apart – on a normal night, we’d be packed to the rafters but we can’t do that.

“We’re booked out again for Friday so I probably won’t be able to watch much of it, but that we’re open inside is a massive step in the right direction.

“We’ve been doing well with the garden but we’re really excited to get back open indoors.”

Kate Blyth, manager at the Kidlington Football Club bar, said the club was fully booked for both games.

She said: “I think the atmosphere is going to be really good – people haven’t been able to sit inside for a long time so it’s nice that we’re open again inside now.”