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Premier League clubs support return of fans

Joe-Prince Wright, Andy Edwards and Nick Mendola discuss the news that the Premier League will start allowing fans into stadiums, as well as benefits and concerns surrounding the decision.

Premier League fans will legally be allowed to return to stadiums from December 2 as the UK government revealed how fans can return to sporting venues after the latest national lockdown is over.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

For the first time since March fans will be allowed to attend Premier League games, as different regions in England will be split into three tiers based on the rate of COVID-19 in that area.

Tier 1 there will see a maximum of 4,000 fans allowed to watch sporting events in outdoors stadiums. Tier 2 will see a maximum of 2,000 fans and in Tier 3 there be zero fans allowed.

The Premier League released a statement supporting the move, but pushed for more fans to be allowed to attend as costs for policing, safety stewards and other staff will likely mean it will cost clubs money to let in 2-4,000 fans.

“Fans have been greatly missed at Premier League matches and therefore we welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today regarding the return of supporters for the first time since March, albeit at small numbers,” the league said in a statement. “Our ambition remains to work with Government to increase attendance to more substantial levels. Until this can be done, many fans will be unable to attend games and our clubs will continue to operate matches at a financial loss.

“Our priority continues to be the agreement of a roadmap, with DCMS and the Sports Technology and Innovation Group, for pilot events that can help our clubs quickly scale up to larger capacities in line with the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s COVID-secure guidelines and beyond. Premier League clubs have a proven track record of achieving high-biosecurity standards and we believe we can play a significant role in the Government’s rapid turnaround testing initiative. We look forward to working with Government on their next steps.”

What are Premier League clubs saying?

West Ham, Everton and Chelsea are thrre Premier League clubs who have released statements of their own, as both clubs support the stance made by the PL that they want a framework in place to allow even more fans to return in the coming weeks and months.

The Hammers say they ‘want the safe return of our supporters to London Stadium as soon as possible’ and Chelsea said that ‘while the current guidelines mean that we will not yet be able to return to full capacity at Stamford Bridge, the club continues to work on plans to accommodate as many fans as possible.’ Everton said their objective is to ‘enable as many fans as possible to attend games, whilst prioritizing the health and safety of fans and staff.’

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck added: “As I am sure our fans do as well, the Club welcomes this development and will continue to work with the Premier League and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the safe return of fans to Stamford Bridge.”

Which Premier League clubs will be allowed fans?

Aside from the financial losses of hosting a maximum of 4,000 fans in stadiums, will all 20 Premier League teams be allowed to host fans?

Well, that depends on which tier they are placed in. Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds were all previously placed in tier 3 before the national lockdown, while London, Newcastle, Wolverhampton and Birmingham were also in tier 2 at one point with Leicester also placed under its own restrictions.

If those tiers remain in place after the national lockdown is lifted on Dec. 2, only three Premier League clubs (Brighton, Southampton and Leicester) would be able to host 4,000 fans in their stadiums but Leicester’s case have risen dramatically in recent weeks.

Until the UK government announces which regions will be in which tier, we don’t know exactly how this will look but it’s clear that some clubs are eager for fans to return, even in small numbers, from next weekend.

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