Great Britain

Premier League clubs ‘could host tens of thousands of fans by January’ if there is no spike in coronavirus cases

PREMIER LEAGUE clubs could host tens of thousands of fans inside stadiums by January if there is no spike in coronavirus cases, according to reports.

On Monday it was announced football fans will be welcomed back in to stadiums on December 2.

Thousands are still set to be locked out with outdoor gates capped at just 4,000 - with the exact limit dependant on local Covid-19 rates.

But that number could be boosted massively in early 2021 with plans for pilot events hosting tens of thousands of fans, according to The Telegraph.

However, the plans are set to include only 'some' Premier League clubs.

Even then, the pilot events being given the green light hinges on the nation's reaction to the current lockdown ending next Wednesday.

The plan to get tens of thousands of supporters back inside stadiums can only go ahead if there is no spike in coronavirus cases in December.

Premier League clubs know they stand to LOSE money by welcoming back only a few thousand fans at most.

And the report states club officials want the Government to provide a roadmap to fuller stadiums in the immediate future.

Bosses at Premier League clubs had hoped pilot events that would see bigger crowds could run parallel with the new scheme through December.

However, The Telegraph claim they've been told that will NOT happen and the test games will go ahead in 2021.

A Premier League statement read: “Our ambition remains to work with Government to increase attendance to more substantial levels.

"Until this can be done, many fans will be unable to attend games and our clubs will continue to operate matches at a financial loss.

“Our priority continues to be the agreement of a roadmap, with DCMS and the Sports Technology and Innovation Group, for pilot events that can help our clubs quickly scale up to larger capacities in line with the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s Covid-secure guidelines and beyond.

“Premier League clubs have a proven track record of achieving high-biosecurity standards and we believe we can play a significant role in the Government’s rapid turnaround testing initiative.

“We look forward to working with Government on their next steps.”

Tottenham and Manchester United are claimed to have volunteered to host large-scale pilot events.

While most Premier League clubs will financially survive regardless, the welcoming back of five-figure crowds could be crucial elsewhere across the country.

Championship clubs and some Football League teams will be able to stay afloat with large crowds returning.

It's the same story in the Premiership and Championship in rugby - which, much like football's lower leagues, rely heavily on ticket sales.

But for now, outdoor gates are to be capped at just 4,000.

In Tier One areas, where Covid restrictions are the least severe, clubs will be allowed 50 per cent of their capacity up to that 4,000 maximum.

Those in Tier Two will be restricted to 2,000 or 50 per cent - again, whichever is the lower figure - but clubs in Tier Three remain empty.

Tiers are set to be announced on Thursday but, based on those before this latest lockdown, the only Premier League clubs to be allowed the full 4,000 fans will be Brighton and Southampton.

Based on those previous tiers a whopping SEVEN top-flight clubs - including giants Liverpool, Man Utd and City - will still NOT be allowed any fans.

Sport fans to return to live matches from December 2 with Premier League stadiums back open as rules relax

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