OXFORD United fans could be attending matches again in October following Boris Johnson's latest announcement. 

Mass gatherings at sports grounds have been banned since March as part of social distancing measures brought in to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

But as the Prime Minister set out the next stage of the UK's recovery road map, he revealed the government was working towards crowds returning to stadiums after some test events.

"We will pilot larger gatherings in venues such as sports stadia with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn," he said at a Downing Street briefing today.

"All of these measures, for August 1, should be done in a Covid-secure way.

"From October we intend to bring back audiences in stadia and allow conferences and other business events to recommence, again these changes must be done in a Covid-secure way subject to the successful outcome of pilots."

It has been reported that two dates for the start of the 2020/21 Sky Bet League One campaign are currently under consideration – August 29 and September 12.

All three of United's Sky Bet League One play-off games were played behind closed doors, including the final at Wembley.

But a statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the test events were taking place in order "to build up to and prepare for the full, socially distanced return of sporting events from October 1, 2020".

Read also: Oxford United players reveal "pain" of play-off final defeat

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: "For months, millions of us have felt the void of being unable to go to the match to support our team or attend a top-class sporting event.

"So I am pleased that we are now able to move forward with a plan to help venues safely reopen their doors to fans.

"I recognise that not every sport, team or club has the benefit of huge commercial revenue, and it is often their dedicated fans that are the lifeblood which helps keep them going.

"By working closely with sports and medical experts, these pilots will help ensure the safe return of fans to stadia.

"Although it will remain some time before venues are full to capacity, this is a major step in the right direction for the resumption of live spectator sport across the country."

While Johnson's latest update is welcome news, attendance at sporting events for the foreseeable future will be subject to a number of strict conditions.

These include venues being ordered to provide information on measures being taken to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 infection and a code of behaviour for spectators advising them to take a responsible approach.

Other measures could include careful control of seat bookings to ensure social distancing is observed, providing alternatives to public transport for fans and additional hygiene facilities.