England’s clubs dip toe in water of limited fan return

December 2 – After 266 long days, a tiny number of fans return to English league football tonight with clubs in certain areas of the country finally opening their turnstiles.

The nationwide lockdown in England ended at midnight Tuesday, meaning clubs in tier one of the new restrictions can have up to 4,000 fans attend matches, with up to 2,000 allowed at games in tier-two areas.

A total of about 10,000 fans will be allowed into six games but far from previous experience, they will be greeted by one-way systems, temperature checks, strict entry times and minimal catering facilities.

Championship clubs Luton Town and Wycombe Wanderers will be the first to signal football’s reaction to the end of England’s second national lockdown as they host Norwich City and Stoke City respectively.

Apart from a few pilot test events at some EFL fixtures in September, English stadiums have sat silent since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in March.

Both Luton and Wycombe have limited their attendance to 1,000 season ticket holders with all seats allocated to ensure social distancing. Face coverings will be mandatory.

Arsenal will be the first Premier League club to have fans for a competitive fixture since March when they host Rapid Vienna in the Europa League on Thursday. The Premier League itself will then welcome back a  strictly limited number of supporters at the weekend.

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