SPORTING venues across England are set to return to full capacity in time for the new football season.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated this evening that the remaining restrictions on social distancing will be removed on July 19.

It could see full crowds return to stadiums from the start of the Sky Bet League One season, with Oxford United kicking-off at Cambridge United on August 7.

The Prime Minister also announced 'vaccine passports' – where spectators must provide proof of either full vaccination, a recent negative test or existing immunity – will not be compulsory for entry.

A final decision on whether to lift the remaining restrictions will be taken next Monday, but the intention is for stadiums to operate at full capacity for the first time since before the coronavirus pandemic took hold last March.

United have played just four home games in front of fans since then - three matches last December and the League One play-off semi-final first leg against Blackpool last month.

All of those operated a limited capacity, with only 4,000 people - not just fans - allowed in for the Blackpool clash.

Their first competitive match of the new season at the Kassam Stadium is the visit of Charlton Athletic on Saturday, August 14.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail last month, U's managing director Niall McWilliams said the club are prepared to let in as many fans as restrictions allow.

He said: “We’re ready to do absolutely anything.

“The reports that we’ve had for all the games we had partial crowds in were absolutely glowing.

“We work really closely with the relevant authorities.

“Every plan is in place, we’re ready to go whatever scenario is thrown at us.”