Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa is not happy
about the government’s decision to allow only certain regions’ fans to return
Bielsa believes the move to allow clubs in
tiers one and two to let in a limited number of supporters will
“penalise” clubs in the highest tier who must continue behind closed
Bielsa’s fears were given qualified backing
by Brighton boss Graham Potter, while Bolton boss Ian Evatt described the
regional system as “madness” and “crazy”.
Bielsa said: “It shouldn’t be about
the category, or the consequences of being in a category, it should be about
trying to maintain the competition as equal as possible with things that are
“The presence of fans has an effect on
“What the organisation says is people
who are from places where there’s a higher risk of infection, it means they
will be penalised.”
Arsenal will be the first Premier League
club to welcome fans for a competitive fixture since March after confirming
2,000 spectators will be allowed in for their Europa League match against Rapid
Vienna next Thursday.
West Ham’s match against Manchester United
on December 5 is set to be the first Premier League game with fans in
Potter, whose side host Southampton on
December 7, also expressed misgivings but warned it would not necessarily work
in the favour of the home clubs in question.
“Sometimes the home crowd is with you,
because you are playing well, and sometimes the home crowd can be a little bit
nervous or frustrated and therefore it can work against you,” said Potter.
“But I think certainly if you have got
that environment, where the home supporters are really behind the players,
there’s a real belief, a real connection, then I think it can be really
powerful at a football club.”
Evatt, whose club, like Leeds, are in tier
three, was more outspoken, adding to the Bolton News: “I think there is an
advantage there – certainly having supporters that are trying to back your team
and will them on, it can only help (them).”
In respective statements, Arsenal described
the imminent return of fans as an “historic moment for the club”,
whilst the Hammers cautioned that a “small number” of fans could be
allowed to return.
All the games preceding the Hammers’ clash
with United – Aston Villa v Newcastle on December 4, Burnley v Everton and
Manchester City v Fulham on December 5 – are being played in tier three areas.
Brighton, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool
are the other teams in tier two areas hosting games that weekend.
In the EFL, Cambridge and Northampton were
among the first clubs to announce they were working on piloting the return of fans
in matches in the first week of December.
– TEAMtalk media
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