WANDERERS will be unable to lodge an application with the EFL to be a pilot venue for a phased return for spectators until the town is out of local lockdown.

The government has now given the go-ahead for a limited number of venues to bring up to 1,000 supporters in for test events this weekend.

The UniBol has laid empty for the first three competitive games of the season.

Bolton are away at Colchester United on Saturday and it is not currently known whether their opponents have applied to take part in the trial.

Newport County come to the University of Bolton Stadium a week later but clubs have been advised that any areas which are operating with local coronavirus restrictions will not be considered.

The league was only informed late this morning by government officials that the test events could go ahead and clubs were given until 2pm to lodge an official application.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will meet with sports bodies later this week to discuss the planned return of spectators to sport from October 1.

The EFL’s head of policy, John Nagle, wrote to clubs earlier today, stating: "We cannot guarantee at this stage that all clubs that would like to stage a pilot will be given permission to do so, as only a limited number will be approved.

"We are still in discussions with regard to pilot matches on other dates."

A spokesperson for the EFL said the league would continue to discuss further pilot matches beyond this weekend where capacities would be limited to 1,000.

"The League is clear in its view that social distancing can be applied safely in football stadia and that having crowds at matches is an absolutely essential part of helping to protect club finances, which remain under extreme pressure," they added.

"Therefore, the successful delivery of further pilots will be an important step towards getting larger numbers of fans into grounds safely."

The government faces increased pressure from both the EFL and Premier League to begin phasing supporters back into stadia but put on hold plans to allow up to a third of capacity to be filled by next month.

Wanderers are confident their modern stadium will allow them to bring back all season ticket holders, once safe to do so.

Regular discussions have been held with the Safety Action Group, comprised of council and emergency service representatives, and plans have been put in place for social distancing around the ground.

But the local coronavirus situation has presented the club with a potentially worrying delay and it seems highly unlikely that they will be among the first League Two clubs who will be allowed to bring fans back in any great number.