Fans can return to English football stadiums next week, ending an eight month absence due to Covid restrictions, but while the government’s decision to open the turnstiles has been welcomed it also presents a series of new headaches for clubs.
The first hurdle clubs must clear will come on Thursday when the government announces which tiers of restrictions given regions in England will be placed in.
Clubs which fall into tier three areas, which contains the strictest restrictions, will still not be allowed to let any fans into their grounds.
Only those in the lowest risk, tier one, region will be allowed to have the maximum of 4,000 fans while the middle-ranked tier 2 areas will be restricted to up to 2,000 fans.
“So some clubs will have fans backing them in home fixtures and others will have empty stadiums with no fans! Unfair competition or not??” asked former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, who is co-owner of League Two (fourth division) Salford City.
Even those clubs that are allowed to have fans in stadiums from Wednesday Dec. 2, will need to have ensured that local safety advisory groups have been consulted and given the go ahead.
Clubs would also have to bring stadium staff, including safety officers, some of whom may have been furloughed, legally back to work in time for the games. REUTERS