4,000 people will be allowed back into football stadiums NEXT WEEK
BRITS will be able to see football live from December 2 onwards as the PM plans a relaxation of the sport rules for Christmas.
A set number of fans will be allowed into stadiums to cheer on their teams.
Supporters haven’t been allowed to watch their top teams in person since before the first lockdown back in March.
Brighton fans were allowed in to watch their team’s friendly against Chelsea at the end of August.
But no other Premier League team has allowed supporters in since that test event.
Tier 1 is expected to be allow up to 4,000 fans to watch, with just 2,000 in Tier 2.
Only two Premier League clubs – Brighton and Southampton, which are expected to remain under Tier 1 covid restrictions after the lockdown ends on December 2 – will be allowed to let in the maximum amount.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport have been pushing plans to allow fans in areas where coronavirus infection rates are low to attend games.
But others in Government were concerned about creating packed trains and forcing people to queue outside stadiums – which could possibly spred the virus and increase infections.
Football matches have been allowed to go ahead, but behind closed doors with no fans.
Other sports have been allowed to welcome back crowds in limited numbers.
It came as the PM was due to confirm that outdoor grassroots sport would be able to return, and gyms could reopen again after the lockdown is lifted.
MPs were furious that outdoor activities – where there is less possibility of spreading coronavirus – had been banned.
The expansion of mass testing has also boosted hopes fans could return to stadiums soon.
Restrictions will be a blow for bigger clubs who normally get five figure gates.
But for a number of smaller clubs, the re-opening, even on a reduced scale, of their main income stream will be a massive boost.
Prem clubs, who were still awaiting details, will be less impressed.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy announced earlier today that his club face a £150m loss for this season if fans remain shut out for the entire campaign.
But allowing just 2,000 fans in Tottenham’s 62,000-capacity stadium might make it more expensive to re-open than to keep the ground shut out until that maximum attendance number is bigger.
The five Boxing Day Prem games with supporters – the first to take place in front of fans since March – will be Aston Villa against Crystal Palace, Fulham’s match with Southampton, Leicester’s home game with Manchester United, Brighton’s trip to West Ham and Wolves against Spurs.
Only home fans would be allowed in, subject to social distancing regulations, while it is expected supporters will have to have an “electronic passport” confirming they are infection-free.
Brighton are scheduled to face Arsenal at the Amex on December 28, with West Ham travelling to st Mary’s the same day in front of the larger crowds.
Club chiefs have been been begging for a change of Government stance since the initial lockdown in March.
Trials of up to 2,000 supporters took place earlier in the autumn ahead of a potential October 2 national roll-out.
But that was canned as the second wave of the virus hit, before the ongoing second lockdown began earlier this month.
Now it seems the Government is keen to show that a return to “normality” is possible, and allowing fans back into sporting events will be a significant milestone.
Nevertheless, clubs are in the dark over exactly what it will mean and are scrambling for as much information as possible.
But for fans and clubs in the lower tiers, as well as the National League, the news will be a genuine lifeline and perhaps the key to their financial survival.
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