Following the current spike of coronavirus infection in London, the British capital was one again placed under the toughest level of restrictions, which means fans won’t be allowed to watch sports matches in stadiums. The decision by the British government, which takes effect this week, leaves only four top division clubs in areas where a maximum 2,000 fans are allowed in stadiums.
Last month, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that spectators will be allowed to attend events in stadiums in England under tier systems when the national lockdown ends on December 2. London was initially placed in tier two. However, the latest Premier League tests revealed 14 positive cases, which resulted to moving the classification to tier three.
Everton and Liverpool on the west coast, and Brighton and Southampton on the south coast are only clubs that can allow a maximum 2,000 fans in stadiums. Meanwhile, Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham and West Ham only two weeks after they were allowed back, will be once again played behind closed doors.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government must take swift action after seeing “very sharp, exponential rises” in Greater London. West Ham hosted 2000 fans when they played Manchester United at the London Stadium last weekend, but their home match against Crystal Palace will be behind closed doors, as will the matches at Arsenal and Fulham.
“I’m slightly disappointed,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said. “Even though we are in tier two and we’ve had fans in for a game already, I did feel that it should have been a level playing field for fans. If some clubs can have them and some can’t. We’ve seen, I think, already or felt it on the pitch, the backing that they give you and what it does to the game. I think that should be pretty level.”
Arsenal also said they were “disappointed” they would not be able to welcome fans to the Emirates Stadium for the clash with Southampton, while Fulham said they understood “the frustration and disappointment” of their supporters. Authorities Manchester stadiums, which fall to the high-risk zone in tier 3, have been pushing to drop into the second tier to allow the partial return of supporters
The World Darts Championship at London’s Alexandra Palace, which has an initial plant plan of having 1000 fans in attendance every day, was confirmed to go ahead but the Government’s decision subject to review on December 23, “a further announcement in relation to tickets for the post-Christmas action” would be made in due course. World Snooker Championship was also forced back behind closed doors.