Sport

Stadiums might be allowed to re-open from December 2 with 4,000 lovers allowed in Tier 1 spaces

BREAKING NEWS: Live sport is back! Fans will be allowed into stadiums from December 2, with upto 4,000 watching in Tier 1 areas and 2,000 in Tier 2 areas – but venues in Tier 3 will stay closed

  • Sportsmail revealed that proposals were submitted to allow fans to return 
  • Stadiums in Tier 1 and 2 will be allowed fans once the second lockdown ends
  • Boris Johnson is set to make an announcement on the details later on Monday 

Stadiums are due to be allowed to re-open from December 2 once the second coronavirus lockdown is eased.

Sportsmail revealed on Tuesday that the Department for Culture Media and Sport has submitted proposals to the Cabinet Office for the return of fans to grounds in December.

But now 4,000 spectators – or 50 per cent of a stadium’s capacity for outdoor events, depending on which is lower – are set to be allowed in Tier 1 areas as well as 2,000 spectators or 50 per cent capacity for indoor events also due to be allowed.

Stadiums will be allowed to re-open from December 2 once the second  lockdown is eased

Stadiums will be allowed to re-open from December 2 once the second  lockdown is eased

Boris Johnson is set to make an announcement on the details for Tier 1 and 2 areas on Monday

Boris Johnson is set to make an announcement on the details for Tier 1 and 2 areas on Monday

FIRST MAJOR EVENTS

DECEMBER 2

Football 

Manchester United v PSG, Old Trafford – Champions League

Horse Racing

Haydock Park, Lingfield Park, Ludlow – afternoon

Kempton Park – evening 

DECEMBER 3

Arsenal v Rapid Vienna, Emirates stadium – Europa League

DECEMBER 4

Barnsley v Bournemouth, Oakwell – Championship

RUGBY

Bristol v Northampton Saints, Ashton Gate – Premiership  

Areas in Tier 2 will also be allowed to welcome 2,000 spectators or 50 per cent of their stadium capacity outdoors, again depending on whichever figure is lower, and 1,000 fans or 50 per cent of capacity indoors.

Areas that will go straight into Tier 3 however will still have to adhere to a ban of attending sporting events for all fans. 

Boris Johnson is set to make an announcement later on Monday detailing the long-awaited return of spectators to live sporting events. 

He will make a statement to the House of Commons, and MPs will vote on it later in the week.

Elite sports have still continued behind closed doors during the four-week lockdown, while grassroots and amateur sport have been stopped since 5 November.

But the Prime Minister’s announcement could see Haydock Park Horse racing on December 2 could therefore be the first live sporting event with spectators.

Meanwhile, across all four divisions of professional football in England, clubs insist they will be ready to reopen the turnstiles, as soon as they have a green light from government.

‘I would love to see our supporters [in Turf Moor] for a test event in December,’ said Neil Hart chief executive at Burnley, whose club hosts Wolves on December 19 and Sheffield United on the 28th of that month.

‘Our fans are desperate to come back and get behind Sean Dyche and the team. Supporters are telling us how much they miss it. There is a huge mental wellbeing [issue] – football is a huge part of our lives.’

Haydock Park Horse racing on December 2 could be the first sporting event with spectators

Haydock Park Horse racing on December 2 could be the first sporting event with spectators

If allowed back, Manchester United’s Champions League tie against PSG and Rapid Vienna’s visit to Arsenal could be the first events back for professional football in this country.

However, Sportsmail understands that clubs have not been contacted by government about the plans to return fans to stadiums, even those with fixtures in the first few days after lockdown will be lifted.

One club source said: ‘Clubs are in the dark over exactly what it will mean and ar scrambling for as much information as possible.’

Areas in Tier 2 will also be allowed to welcome up to 2,000 spectators and Tier 1 4,000 fans

Areas in Tier 2 will also be allowed to welcome up to 2,000 spectators and Tier 1 4,000 fans

Man United's game against PSG could be the first football game with fans in attendance

Man United’s game against PSG could be the first football game with fans in attendance

However, clubs at all levels of professional football have done a huge amount of preparation for the return of supporters, including making sue their stadiums are equipped for cashless payment, planning for staggered arrivals and social distancing in grounds.

Rugby union had also been hard hit by the absence of fans but received the largest amount from the £300m government bail-out announced last week, but some of England’s fixtures may be allowed to bring fans back in.

Bristol Bears’ clash with Northampton Saints at Ashton Gate could be the first Premiership fixture to welcome fans back in. 

Rugby union has also suffered as a result of the lockdown but could see fans return soon

Rugby union has also suffered as a result of the lockdown but could see fans return soon

The news is timely however given that Macclesfield Town were wound up more than two months ago – strengthening fears other clubs may follow suit in the coming months.

The 146-year-old National League outfit, relegated from League Two last season, were forced into liquidation at a High Court hearing on Wednesday over debts totalling £500,000 and became the first club to fold during the pandemic.

It is understood at least ten EFL clubs will need an emergency loan to pay staff this month, with another ten thought to be teetering on the brink in December. 

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