Premier League

Premier League fans could return to stadiums in December

Premier League matches have taken place behind closed doors since March, but fans could be welcomed back in certain areas.

8:57pm on Monday 23rd November 2020
Robin Bairner

Supporters could be present at some Premier League grounds from December, the UK government has confirmed.

Attendances of up to 4,000 will be permitted in areas of England that fall under the Tier 1 bracket of lockdown, when the current phase of countrywide measures ends on 2nd December.

Areas that are in the Tier 2 group, meanwhile, will be able to welcome crowds of up to 2,000 for games.

In the third and final tier, however, matches will continue to take place behind closed doors.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the relaxing of measures around sport during an address on Monday.

"In tiers one and two, spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing," said Johnson.

"Later this week, we will announce which areas will fall into which tier - I hope on Thursday - based on analysis of cases in all age groups, especially the over-60s.

"Also, [it will involve] looking at the rate at which cases are rising or falling, the percentage of those tested in a local population who have Covid and current and projected pressures on the NHS."

Burnley manager Sean Dyche is looking forward to getting back to playing in front of live audiences, who have been absent since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the UK in March.

"Even if it is limited numbers, it brings that feel and that connection back," Dyche said, before his side's home Premier League match against Crystal Palace.

"Hopefully it will build quickly after that. We have missed our fans."

The EFL is likely to be first to benefit, with a schedule of matches across December 1 and 2. It has been intimated that any club wishing to switch their fixture from the Tuesday to the Wednesday in order to welcome fans back is liable to be given a positive response.

"Fans have always felt football should be treated the same as other sectors," said a Football Supporters' Association statement.

"We welcome today's announcement, which does suggest that will be the case, and we look forward to seeing further details.

"For many lower-league and non-league clubs in particular, getting paying fans into stadiums safely is absolutely critical to their survival during a very difficult season.

"Clubs, leagues and the Sports Ground Safety Authority have worked hard to put in procedures to make stadiums safe places and we hope this is the first step on the road back to normality."

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