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Fans to return to English stadiums from December 2

Fans will be allowed back in English stadiums from next week as part of guidelines that will be based on the government’s new tiered lockdown system.

The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), confirmed today (Monday) that 4,000 fans, or 50 per cent of the stadium capacity – whichever is lower – will be allowed in Tier 1 areas.

In Tier 2 areas, the attendance cap has been set at 2,000, or 50 per cent of the stadium capacity. Indoor sporting events and fixtures in Tier 1 and Tier 2 will be able to host a maximum of 1,000 fans, or 50 per cent of capacity.

In Tier 3 areas, fans will not be permitted to attend elite sporting fixtures, in line with hospitality venues and other large event venues being closed. In these areas, elite sport will continue behind closed doors.

The government is set to announce on Thursday which areas will fall into each tier of the new lockdown system, which will be introduced next week.

Organised grassroots sport will also be able to resume from December 2, with gyms and leisure centres able to reopen across all tiers. Spectators at non-elite sports will be able to attend events in line with COVID-secure guidance for each tier.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This is a big step forward for sport. Bringing grassroots sport back was my number one priority so I’m pleased we are reopening sports and gyms in every tier, in recognition of the significant health benefits.

“I’m also delighted we are able to get the turnstiles turning sooner than expected, taking a cautious approach and starting with the lowest risk areas first. I’m confident that sports will take every step to ensure their fans are safe, and fans will play their part and look out for each other until we can safely get everyone back in.”

The DCMS last week held a virtual meeting with representatives from the Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and Football Association (FA) to discuss the potential return of fans to stadiums before the end of the year.

It was reported at the time that a system would be introduced whereby fans would be able to attend matches depending on which tier of COVID-19 restrictions their local area is in, and this has now been confirmed.

A small handful of EFL matches were held with a limited number of fans in September as part of a pilot programme to assess the potential for the wider return of spectators. Pilot events were also held in other sports such as cricket, rugby union, snooker and horse racing but a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country put paid to plans for a wider return of fans.

Image: Pixabay