Fans to return to stadiums from next month, Prime Minister confirms

Carrow Road, Portman Road, Franklin's Gardens and Newmarket Racecourse could soon welcome back fans. Credit: PA

Sports fans will be allowed to return to stadiums from next month when the national lockdown ends on December 2, the Prime Minister has announced.

Boris Johnson confirmed that England will return to a tiered system from the start of next month, and a limited number of supporters will be allowed to attend matches in the lowest-risk areas.

Up to 4,000 fans will be able to watch outdoor matches in Tier One areas, while 2,000 will be permitted in Tier Two.

However, no fans will be allowed in Tier Three areas.

A maximum of 1,000 people will also be allowed in indoor venues in both Tier One and Tier Two.

"In tiers one and two, spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing," Mr Johnson said in statement via video link to the House of Commons on Monday.

How many fans will be allowed to return?

An empty Stadium MK. Credit: PA
  • Tier One - 50% capacity for smaller stadiums or maximum of 4,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors (whichever is lower)

  • Tier Two - 50% capacity for smaller stadiums or maximum of 2,000 outdoors and 1,000 indoors (whichever is lower)

  • Tier Three - No fans allowed

It means clubs in the East, many of whom have been facing huge financial difficulties because of the lack of revenue, could start welcoming back crowds before Christmas.

Football matches have been played behind closed doors in the Premier League and Championship since June, and League One and Two games have also taken place without fans since September.

The government will announce on Thursday which tiers each region will be put into, but the Prime Minister did warn that more places could be put in higher tiers than before.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden described Monday's announcement as a "a big step forward for fans as we work towards fuller capacities".

Several clubs in the East, including Northampton Town and Cambridge United, gave a cautious welcome to the announcement.

Ipswich Town could have fans back at Portman Road for their match against Portsmouth on December 12, and Club secretary Stuart Hayton said the news will give everyone at the club "a lot of encouragement.”

"Obviously we have to wait until we find out which tier we are in and what restrictions will be in place but hopefully supporters will be back at Portman Road next month," he said.

“A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes in preparation for the return of fans and a lot of hard work still lies ahead but the announcement today will give everyone a lot of encouragement.”

Norwich City and Cambridge United were among the clubs who were chosen to host pilot events with crowds earlier in the season, but plans to get supporters back in stadiums from October were scrapped due to a rise in coronavirus cases.

The Canaries'  joint majority shareholder Delia Smith recently wrote to Boris Johnson urging him to allow fans to return.

Meanwhile, outdoor sports at grassroots level will also be allowed to resume from December, and gyms will also reopen.

MPs will still need to approve all the plans in a vote later in the week.