On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced guidelines for fans returning to sporting events as national lockdown ends on December 2nd. In conjunction with a regional tier system, football clubs will have the opportunity to welcome back fans.
Clubs in tier 1 can welcome up to 4000 fans and clubs in tier 2 can welcome back up to 2000 fans. Clubs in tier 3 will be unable to welcome back fans, as this tier is designated for high risk regions in keeping the virus under control.
(Ed.note: though whether it’s economically beneficial or even feasible to open and staff massive stadiums for just small amounts of fans, 3-10% depending on capacity, is another question entirely, and that’s before we consider problems like ticket allocation and transportation to/from the grounds.)
As reported by The Athletic, the UK government has announced today the initial regional breakdown. All of London has been classified as tier 2, meaning Chelsea will be able to welcome back up to 2000 fans to Stamford Bridge. Fellow clubs in London can also welcome back fans, which will be good news for Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham, and West ham.
Four more Premier League clubs reside in tier 2 regions: Brighton, Everton, Liverpool, and Southampton. The remaining clubs, including all of Manchester reside in tier 3 regions, and will be unable to welcome back fans when lockdown ends. No clubs in the Premier League have been designated tier 1. In fact, only Cornwall and Isle of Wight have been designated tier 1, so if my understanding of the English football pyramid is correct, there is not a club allowed to welcome back 4000 fans yet.
When asked about the potential return of fans after the Rennes match on Tuesday, Frank Lampard reiterated his delight with the news and desire to have a return to normal for match-day atmosphere.
“First and foremost we want fans back. I am not sure exactly how the system will work and whether a percentage of fans, depending on stadium or whatever, is something that needs to be discussed further.
“But what was really nice for me was the positive nature of the fact that there is movement and something will happen. If it feels safe and we can start somewhere then that is the most important thing, because these are very uncertain times. Hopefully the level playing field remains but we have some fans back and move forward quickly.
“I am just happy with the news because there is a lot of things which have been disrupted in life recently, which are more important than football. But as just football as our jobs and playing in stadiums and wanting fans back for the atmosphere and what it means for the fans is becoming more and more apparent every game that we play. So if it’s safe then, of course, we’re really happy.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Chelsea’s first home match after the end of lockdown will be the much hyped match against Leeds United on December 5th.