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Explained: How Premier League fans will return

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 in stadium will be a thing again very soon, as the UK will leave a national lockdown and England has been placed into tiered regions based on the spread of COVID-19 in that area.

[ MORE: PL clubs release statements ]

The return of fans into stadiums across England has been long-awaited, as crowds have not been present in the top four divisions consistently since the COVID-19 pandemic suspended play in March.

A few test events and a few weeks of 1,000 fans in stadiums in the lower leagues did occur in late summer, but that was short-lived as cases rose in the UK and another lockdown arrived.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that when the second national lockdown ends in the UK on December 2, fans will be allowed to return to elite sporting events indoors and outdoors for the first time since March, as long as the new plan is voted in by government which is expected to happen.

“Outdoor sports can resume and shops, personal care and the wider leisure sector can reopen,” Johnson said. “In Tiers 1 and 2, spectator sports will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing. We will announce which areas will fall into which tier based on analysis of cases in all age groups and the rate of which cases are rising or falling.”

How can fans return to Premier League games? When will it happen? How many fans can return? Will all 20 Premier League clubs have fans in their stadiums?

Here we explain it all.

How many fans can return to Premier League stadiums?

There will be a maximum of 4,000 fans allowed into the stadium if it is located in a tier 1 region. If the stadium is located in a tier 2 region a maximum of 2,000 fans will be allowed entry and in tier 3 no fans will be allowed entry. As things stand, there will only be home fans allowed at stadiums.

Will all 20 Premier League teams be allowed to have fans in stadiums?

That depends on which tier they have been placed in. Tier 1 allows for a maximum of 4,000 fans to attend a game, but none of the Premier League clubs are in regions based in tier 1.

Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Wolverhampton Birmingham, Leicester and Leeds were all placed in tier 3, the strictest tier in terms of restrictions.

London, Liverpool, Southampton and Brighton were placed in tier 2, and will now be allowed to welcome back fans from December 2 on.

These Premier League teams are allowed to have a maximum of 2,000 fans from December 2:

  • Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Fulham, Brighton, Southampton.

These teams are NOT allowed any fans from December 2:

  • Aston Villa, Burnley, Leeds United, Leicester City, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Sheffield United, West Brom, Wolves.

What is the Premier League planning?

The Premier League seems like it is taking a cautious approach, as the costs of policing, stewarding and controlling the return of 4,000 fans may see them suffer financial loss for hosting a small number of fans. The Premier League has always said it will push for more substantial crowds to return, when it is safe to do so.

“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. 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.”

Why only 4,000 fans maximum?

Even though most venues in the Premier League can hold tens of thousands of fans, this is all about stopping a huge influx of people traveling to games on public transport and descending on one area. This change in policy from the UK government seems to mostly benefit clubs in League One and League Two, as their finances rely heavily on fans being allowed in. In tier 1 clubs can have 4,000 fans or half of their maximum capacity, depending on which is fewer. Tier 2 will see 2,000 fans or half of their maximum capacity, depending on which is fewer. Tier 3 will have no fans.

When will fans return?

From Wednesday, December 2 fans will be able to attend games in the Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two, National League, National League South, National League North and all other semi-professional leagues below them.

What about European competition?

UEFA will allow fans to attend games based on what is allowed in the country where the game is being played. A cap of a maximum of 30 percent of the usual capacity is placed on all games in the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League.

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