SUNDERLAND are already working on plans that should see around 10,000 spectators admitted to the Stadium of Light for the home leg of the club’s play-off semi-final.

The Black Cats guaranteed their play-off place when they won at Plymouth Argyle last weekend, with Sunday’s final game of the regular season against Northampton Town set to determine the identity of their semi-final opponents and the schedule for the two-legged tie.

If the season were to end today, Sunderland would be taking on Lincoln City in the last four. However, depending on what happens on Sunday, they could yet find themselves lining up against Blackpool, Lincoln or whoever of Portsmouth, Oxford and Charlton ends up filling the final play-off space.

They could also end up in either semi-final, with the first last-four clash scheduled for Tuesday, May 18 and Friday, May 21, and the two legs of the second game due to take place on Wednesday, May 19 and Saturday, May 22. Depending on where they finish, Sunderland could still be home or away first.

Whatever happens, both legs of the club’s semi-final game will take place after the Government’s scheduled date for the next easing of lockdown regulations. As things stand, the UK will move into Phase Three of the Government’s road map on May 17, at which point mass gatherings will be permitted.

From May 17, football clubs will be able to admit up to 10,000 fans or 25 per cent of their stadium’s capacity, whichever is the lower figure. The capacity at the Stadium of Light is 49,000, so the attendance for the play-off game will be capped at 10,000.

At this stage, it is not known whether that figure relates to the total number of people permitted within the stadium (including players, staff, match officials and media) or whether the club will be able to sell 10,000 tickets. Further guidance is anticipated ahead of May 17, and the Government is still to confirm whether the next stage of easing will take place as planned.

However, with their play-off place now guaranteed, Sunderland officials are working on detailed plans that will see the club admit the maximum number of permitted spectators for the play-off game.

They will have to submit detailed operating plans to the local safety advisory group once the Government’s next move is known, explaining how they will admit fans to the stadium and ensure all adhere to coronavirus guidelines and are kept safe.

Ticketing details will be released in due course, although it is expected that existing season-ticket holders for the current season will be given priority. At this stage, it is not thought likely that away fans will be admitted to either leg of the play-off games.

“It can be one of the best things about English football, when the fans are there,” said Sunderland boss Lee Johnson. “It would be massive if some could be there - even just a proportion - because I am really looking forward to that. We need positivity, support - the players need support - belief, and concentration.”