Coronavirus tiers: Liverpool, London to welcome back fans

London and Liverpool in Tier 2 so can welcome back 2,000 supporters into stadiums; Manchester will remain in Tier 3 so no fans allowed to return; Arsenal to be first Premier League team to welcome back fans; RFU donates 400 tickets to NHS as 2,000 rugby fans will be allowed in Twickenham

Liverpool fans at Anfield hold their scarves aloft
Image: Up to 2,000 Liverpool fans are set to return to Anfield on December 5 for the Premier League game against Wolves

Premier League clubs in Liverpool and London will be able to welcome some supporters back into their stadiums after the Government announced which tiers different areas of the country will be in after the end of the second lockdown.

A long list of Premier League clubs, including Manchester City, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Leicester will be unable to have fans back in person, however.

Supporters of Burnley, Leeds, Sheffield United, West Brom and Wolves will also have to wait longer before any of them can cheer their teams on inside their grounds.

London has been named as a Tier 2 area, which places it in the 'High' risk category. That means Arsenal will become the first English top-flight club to welcome back fans when they host Rapid Vienna in a Europa League group-stage clash on Thursday, December 3, and they have said tickets will be available to fans on a "first come, first served priority sale" to certain members who registered for the ballot in September.

West Ham's match against Manchester United on December 5, live on Sky Sports, is set to be the first Premier League game with fans in attendance.

Three more of next week's Premier League fixtures - Spurs vs Arsenal, Chelsea vs Leeds and Brighton vs Southampton - will also have a strictly limited number of fans in attendance.

Greater Manchester is among the areas that will remain in Tier 3 - classified as 'Very High' risk and the only tier which does not allow any fans to attend matches - when the new regulations come into effect on December 2.

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Ten Premier League clubs are located in tier 2 areas
Image: Ten Premier League clubs are located in Tier 2 areas
Premier League tier 3
Image: Premier League teams in Tier 3 areas still cannot have fans inside their stadiums

Merseyside has dropped down to Tier 2, though, meaning reigning champions Liverpool and Everton can welcome back 2,000 supporters into their stadiums, as long as they continue to follow strict Covid-19 safety measures.

That would see supporters inside Anfield for the first time since March when Liverpool face Wolves at home in the Premier League on December 5.

Twickenham Stadium
Image: A limited number of supporters will also be allowed inside Twickenham to see England compete in the Autumn Nations Cup on December 6

There also will be 2,000 allowed into Twickenham for England's Autumn Nations Cup game against an as-yet-unknown opponent on December 6.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the details in a statement to the Commons on Thursday, with a further review of the tier ratings to be made on December 16, although the new proposals will go before MPs on December 1.

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Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher is delighted Liverpool will be able to welcome back fans under the new Government tiers, but has sympathy for those that will miss out

Responding to the news, Manchester United said in a statement: "Manchester United notes the Government decision to keep Trafford in the Tier 3 category of Covid-19 restrictions. This means games at Old Trafford will continue to take place behind closed doors until further notice.

"Our plans for safely welcoming back fans to Old Trafford are well advanced and we look forward to doing so as soon as we are given the go ahead. We will continue to work with local authorities on finalising our plans so that we can move quickly when our area comes out of Tier 3.

"Some of our forthcoming away games in Tier 2 areas may take place with a limited number of fans in attendance. However, under current guidelines, away fans will not be permitted to attend.

"We thank our fans for their continued patience and will keep them informed of further developments."

Everton also confirmed they are already beginning their preparations for the safe return of fans to Goodison Park for the game against Chelsea next month.

"Everton is progressing discussions with local and national authorities in preparation for the phased return of supporters to Goodison Park after the UK Government confirmed Liverpool City Region will enter Tier 2 local restrictions following the end of the national lockdown on December 2," the club said in a statement on their website.

"The club is undertaking a series of discussions with the Premier League and both local and national authorities to ensure the necessary safety measures and guidelines are in place for the return of fans. The first Goodison Park fixture fans will be able to attend will be the visit of Chelsea on December 12."

Arsenal to become first PL team to welcome back fans

 during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Watford FC at Emirates Stadium on September 29, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.
Image: Arsenal fans will return to the Emirates on December 3

Arsenal will become the first Premier League team to welcome fans back into their stadium, and said via a statement: "We're delighted to confirm that we will be safely welcoming 2,000 supporters to our Europa League home match against Rapid Vienna on Thursday, December 3.

"It's been almost nine long months since we had fans in attendance at Emirates Stadium and our matches have simply not been the same without you.

"While we appreciate that reduced capacity matches will be far from being 'back to normal', we can't wait to welcome our fans back home for what will be a historic moment for the club.

"This follows the UK Government announcement that Emirates Stadium is located in a Tier 2 area under the latest Covid-19 guidelines."

RFU donates Twickenham tickets to NHS

The Rugby Football Union is to donate 400 tickets to NHS workers as Twickenham prepares for the return of fans when England play their final match of the Autumn Nations Cup.

London's Tier 2 status means a crowd of 2,000 is permitted when Eddie Jones' men contest what is expected to be the showpiece event of the tournament - most likely against France - on Sunday week.

Of those attending, half will have purchased their tickets as Twickenham hosts spectators for the first time since March 7 when Wales were beaten 33-30 in the Six Nations.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: The Corner flag with the message Thank you NHS during the Vanarama National League Play Off Final match between Harrogate Town and Notts County at Wembley Stadium on August 02, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Image: The RFU has donated 400 tickets to the NHS for the fans' return to Twickenham

"We are delighted to be able to welcome 2,000 fans to Twickenham for the final Quilter International as part of the Autumn Nations Cup on December 6," RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said.

"This is an opportunity for us to operate a socially-distanced event as a small step forward in our plans for the return of fans to stadia.

"Twenty per cent of the seats for the game will be gifted to local NHS workers. The remaining will be for the players' families, local rugby clubs, sponsors and around 1,000 seats will be on sale with prices starting from £75."

England face Wales in Llanelli on Saturday and appear certain to finish on top of Group A of the Autumn Nations Cup with France having a similarly dominant grip on Group B.

EFL working to get all clubs' fans back

The EFL released a statement saying it welcomed the return of fans to some stadiums from December 2 onwards, but will continue to work with the Government to ensure all clubs can safely welcome back fans in larger numbers.

EFL Logo
Image: The EFL said it will continue to work with the Government to get fans back 'in larger numbers'

The statement read: "Having campaigned for the return of supporters for many months, the EFL is looking forward to the reopening of some EFL club stadiums next week and, following today's announcements, the picture is becoming clearer.

"Currently, a total of 34 EFL clubs have been placed in tier two, which has an immediate potential impact on six matches next week, and the EFL is working with those clubs to support discussions with local safety advisory groups to ensure EFL stadiums can safely welcome back fans from Wednesday, December 2 onwards.

"The league has worked closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority in developing the appropriate safety guidance to this point, and we await the final guidance to be implemented by clubs in consultation with their local authorities.

"Whilst the return of supporters, even in a limited capacity, is a positive and important step, we will monitor progress in the coming weeks and continue to work with the Government to ensure all clubs are able to welcome back fans, in larger numbers, as soon as it is can safely be achieved."

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