Sport

Chelsea boss Lampard needs ‘stage enjoying box’ for stadiums with London set to enter Tier 3

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has spoken out against the likelihood of London-based clubs not being able to permit fans at football matches as a result of the English capital moving into Tier 3 due to the Government’s coronavirus restrictions.

Following London’s reduction to Tier 2 earlier this month, the Blues have been able to welcome a small section of supporters back to Stamford Bridge.

Classified as Tier 2, London has been allowed to hold events of up to 2,000 people outdoors and 1,000 inside.  

Frank Lampard believes Chelsa should retain the right to let in 2,000 fans at Stamford Bridge

Frank Lampard believes Chelsa should retain the right to let in 2,000 fans at Stamford Bridge

Other areas such as Manchester remain in Tier 3, meaning no spectators are allowed in attendance, have complained that they have no been able to enjoy the same privilege.  

But with rising coronavirus rates in the capital, it is increasingly likely that it will be moved to the strictest tier – which will mean London clubs will lose the right to let in 2,000 fans, and Lampard believes it should be the same for all clubs in the UK. 

‘If it comes in it will be [a blow],’ the Chelsea boss said ahead of their trip to Wolves. ‘I’m slightly disappointed because it should be a level playing field for fans across the country. I’m not telling the government what to do but we can control 2,000 fans in a stadium.

‘I would like to think we could do something to get 2,000 fans in. That said, it is above my station.’  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will update MPs on the latest developments in the fight against Covid-19 at 3.30pm today. His statement is understood to focus on further measures for London to tackle the spread of coronavirus. He will then lead a Government press conference this evening.

The Government agreed to review the tier levels every two weeks at the latest after they were introduced on December 2, in order to pass the legislation needed in the face of a backbench rebellion. 

Already, Downing Street have rejected London Mayor Sadiq Khan suggestions that schools could be closed early for Christmas and reopen later in January in order to control the spread of the virus, with online lessons to replace missed classes.

He also called for mass testing in schools to help identify outbreaks and for greater Government support if the capital moves into the highest tier.

The Labour mayor said imposing the toughest tier across the capital would be a ‘blunt instrument’, arguing that the rise in cases was not linked to hospitality venues but instead due to a significant increase in schools and colleges.

Mr Khan said ministers could use a meeting on Monday to decide London’s status rather than wait for Wednesday’s review of the allocation of tiers across England.

The mayor told Sky News: ‘My understanding is that Covid-O is meeting as we speak – that’s the sub-committee of the Cabinet that makes the recommendations.

‘We will have to wait and see what the Government decides – it’s a Government decision, not my decision or London leaders’ decision.’

Mr Khan said ‘it’s possible’ that a decision will be made today ‘because we have seen over the last few days a big increase in the virus’.

But he added: ‘It’s worth looking where the virus is spreading faster and it’s worth looking at the areas where we have seen the biggest increase.

‘It’s worth them asking themselves the question: whether a move to Tier 3 is a blunt instrument that doesn’t really address in a laser-like fashion where we are seeing the biggest problems.’ 

Mr Khan said there had been ‘significant’ coronavirus outbreaks among 10 to 19-year-olds in the capital, and that Government must consider asking schools and colleges to close early ahead of Christmas and reopen later in January.

He said all schools and colleges across London should be given ‘priority testing’ from today and Tuesday.

Schools in Greenwich, south-east London, have already been asked to move to online learning from Tuesday. 

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Khan said the seven-day case rate had risen in 32 local authority areas in the capital compared to the previous week.

There were also 17 boroughs where the seven-day rate exceeded 200 cases per 100,000 people.

According to the latest figures, the borough of Havering has the highest coronavirus rate in London, with 1,314 new cases recorded in the seven days to December 9 – the equivalent of 506.3 cases per 100,000 people.

This is up from a rate of 321.3 in the seven days to December 2. 

A move to Tier 3 would see almost 14,000 pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes in the capital forced to close or be restricted to takeaway or delivery services.

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