The plan to allow crowds back into sporting events from October 1 is still on track, according to sports minister Nigel Huddleston.

Pilot events with reduced capacities at cricket, horse racing and snooker are taking place this week.

From there the intention is to scale up the proposals, although it is expected capacities at football will not be at 100 per cent for some time.

With Oxford United due to start their Sky Bet League One campaign on September 12, it would mean only the first three weeks of the season would be behind closed doors.

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Restricted attendances may not impact on the U's too badly - last season's average gates of 7,636 were just over 60 per cent of the Kassam Stadium's total.

Huddleston told the Press Association: "The October 1 deadline is certainly the target that we're looking at.

"In the past, if you look at various announcements we've made, some have been put forward, some have been pushed back, but I think that's a pretty firm one because we've got plans for not only the immediate pilots, but the next series of pilots.

"We genuinely want to make sure that we learn the lessons from those pilots. We're really just talking just over two months away.

"So I would be surprised at this moment in time if that date moved. But I'm confident we'll meet that date."

Surrey's friendly against Middlesex at the Kia Oval on Sunday hosted 1,000 supporters, while Edgbaston in Birmingham is also hosting a two-day friendly between Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

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The World Snooker Championship, which starts on Friday, will become the first indoor event to pilot the safe return of fans, and 5,000 members of the Goodwood Horseracing Club will attend the Festival on Saturday.

"So far it looks like it (the cricket) has gone pretty much as predicted," added Huddleston.

"There were measures expected and fans behaving themselves.

"There's quite a lot of pressures on these, we need and want them to go well.

"We're not expecting them to be perfect and genuinely looking at them for what needs to change and needs to be improved. They are really important."