Wimbledon chief hits back at Neville after withering criticism of final decision

Wimbledon's chief executive insists the decision to allow this year's finals to host full crowds has nothing to do with class.

The men's and women's singles finals are set to be played in front of a capacity crowd at Centre Court in July.

The government is continuing to pursue pilot test events with larger crowds despite its decision to postpone the easing of restrictions on social distancing.

Wembley will welcome 45,000 fans for all four of its knockout fixtures at Euro 2020, while Silverstone is under consideration to have a regular attendance of 140,000 for the British Grand Prix next month.

Neville is furious certain sporting events are hosting huge crowds when there are still strict regulations in place regarding social functions such as weddings.

The former Manchester United and England defender is particularly aggrieved about the decision regarding Wimbledon, even though Centre Court's capacity is a relatively-modest 15,000.

"Can’t dance at a wedding but can stuff strawberries and champagne down your neck at The All England Club packed with tens of thousands crammed like sardines in a tin," wrote Neville on Twitter.

In response to Neville's rant, Sally Bolton, the chief executive of the All England Club, asserted Wimbledon has every right to host capacity crowds at its finals as a pilot event.

"I wouldn't really comment on what his views are – that is a conversation you will have to have with him," said Bolton.

"The reason we are able to have an increased number of spectators at the Championships is that we are part of the event research programme.

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"And to that extent we are helping to support the government and the sector to understand how we can increase fans as we work our way out of the pandemic.

"We are really pleased to be playing a part in that. I don't think that has got anything to do with class. That has just got to do with testing at events.

"And it is likely that they are a number of other events that will be announced in the coming days that will also be part of that third stage event research programme."

Quizzed on whether it is a problem Wimbledon is viewed as elitist by some, Bolton added: "I’m not sure that is necessarily a universal view.

"Our view is very clearly that Wimbledon is for everyone. We want the tournament to be for everyone, we want anybody interacting with the club, whether they’re a member, the guest of a member, someone coming along to take a trip around the museum or attend the championships, to experience a welcoming environment in which they feel entirely welcome. So I don’t recognise us as an elitist organisation. But clearly people can have their own view."

Fans attending Euro 2020 games at Wembley or the Wimbledon finals must prove they have received two coronavirus vaccines or return a recent negative Covid-19 test.

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