London lockdown recloses stadia at Premier League’s six capital teams

December 15 – No sooner had a limited number of fans been allowed back at a number of Premier League fixtures than London matches have been forced back behind closed doors after the capital was placed in the toughest tier of COVID-19 restrictions following a sharp rise in infection rates.

All of London’s six top-flight are having to quickly change plans after Tuesday’s government ruling with all sports events in so-called Tier 3 once again closed to spectators.

Up to 2,000 supporters had been allowed at a number of outdoor arenas in England following the end of the second national lockdown on 2 December.

But the latest decision leaves only four top division clubs in areas where fans are allowed in stadiums. They are Everton, Liverpool – who face Tottenham in a top-of-the-table clash on Wednesday – Brighton and Southampton .

In London, fans are being barred until further notice at Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham and West Ham only two weeks after they were allowed back.

British health secretary Matt Hancock said the government needed to re-impose stricter measures after seeing “very sharp, exponential rises” in and around the capital. He said in some areas cases are doubling every seven days.

“I’m slightly disappointed,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard responded. “We’ve seen, I think, already or felt it on the pitch, the backing that fans give you and what it does to the game.”

Last week, Chelsea welcomed supporters back for the first time since March, but their next home game against West Ham on Monday December 21 will now have no fans in attendance.

“Let’s get it right, we are making it up as we are going along,” added Lampard, whose team travel to Wolves – in tier three – on Tuesday night. “That’s not to sound critical – we haven’t been in this situation before. Can you control the situation? Clubs have shown that they can.

“I would like to think that something could be done to make it exempt where we can get those 2,000 fans back in, but that goes above my station. I’m just saying what I think.”

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