Coronavirus restriction: Arsenal, Chelsea, and other clubs in London won’t host fans

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Coronavirus restriction has returned to London and some other parts of the United Kingdom about two weeks after the restriction was eased on December 2 and fans were allowed into stadiums.

This means that stadiums like Arsenal‘s Emirates Stadium and Chelsea‘s Stamford Bridge will not be able to host fans at their stadiums due to the restriction during their home matches.

Recall that on December 2, clubs whose stadiums fell under tier two were allowed to host fans for the first time since mid-March. The tier system favored clubs that are based in London, Merseyside, and some selected parts of England which the government felt was safe enough to entertain some specific number of spectators.

Those clubs that fell under tier two were permitted to host a maximum of 2000 fans per match, those in tier one were permitted to host 4,000 spectators, while those in tier three had to continue playing behind closed doors.

Coronavirus restriction: Arsenal, Chelsea, and other clubs in London won't host fans
Spectators watching a football game maintaining social distancing.

The tier system marked an end to the practice of playing behind closed doors for some clubs in the Premier League located in areas where the coronavirus pandemic is not as rampant as in other parts of the country. Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Fulham, and about 4 other Premier League clubs benefited from the system as their stadiums fell under tier two.

Unfortunately for clubs in London, on Monday, December 14, Health Secretary in the UK Matt Hancock confirmed in the House of Commons that London, Kent, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire have been moved to tier three which means that football clubs in those areas would not be allowed to host fans.

The return of the coronavirus restriction which would take effect from 00.01 am on Wednesday, was introduced due to a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in those areas affected.

This means that Premier League fixtures in London on Wednesday, including Arsenal vs Southampton, Fulham vs Brighton, and West Ham vs Crystal Palace, will now be played behind closed doors instead of having 2,000 spectators.

“We are disappointed to confirm that we are no longer able to welcome fans to Emirates Stadium for our Premier League fixture against Southampton on Wednesday”, Arsenal confirmed on Monday.

As it stands, clubs located in Merseyside will continue to host fans at their stadiums which means the match between Liverpool and Tottenham at Anfield Stadium will entertain at most 2,000 spectators.

As of the time of publishing this report, it has not been made known how long the new coronavirus restriction will last but the restriction might continue into the new year if the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country doesn’t subside.