The Premier League will be split down the middle when the national lockdown ends next week, with half the division’s 20 clubs able to welcome back fans, including those in Liverpool and London, and the other half not.
After the government announced new tiering measures for England on Thursday, 10 top-flight clubs were placed in the strictest category, tier 3.
In the Premier League no fans will be allowed at Aston Villa, Burnley, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle, Sheffield United, West Brom or Wolves.
The other 10 clubs in the top division can allow up to 2,000 supporters into stadiums because they fall into tier 2 restrictions: Arsenal, Brighton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Southampton, Tottenham and West Ham.
Not a single club in England’s four top divisions falls into the lowest category of tier 1 restrictions, where 4,000 fans could be permitted. The tiers will be reviewed in mid-December.
Arsenal will be the first Premier League club to have fans back when they play Rapid Vienna in the Europa League next Thursday. A number of EFL matches are due to be played next Wednesday in front of supporters and fixtures may be moved to that day from Tuesday to allow fans in.
Newcastle’s manager, Steve Bruce, criticised the whole setup: “Why only 2,000 or 4,000 fans in tier 2 or 1 when we have the capacity to safely house 20,000 at St James’ Park [capacity just over 52,000]? I think that’s unfair.
“We all know how difficult life is for everyone at the moment so it’s a step in the right direction though, a small gesture. For the smaller clubs it’s greater – they live off their gates. I’m all for the smaller clubs getting some income but at St James’ 2,000 or 4,000 fans is neither here nor there; not with the numbers we can have here.”
Tier 2: Bournemouth, Brentford, Luton, Millwall, Norwich, QPR, Reading, Watford, Wycombe.
Tier 3: Barnsley, Birmingham, Blackburn, Bristol City, Coventry, Derby, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest, Preston, Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke.
Awaiting clarity: Cardiff, Swansea.
Tier 2: AFC Wimbledon, Charlton, Crewe, Ipswich, MK Dons, Northampton, Oxford, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Shrewsbury, Swindon.
Tier 3: Accrington, Blackpool, Bristol Rovers, Burton, Doncaster, Fleetwood, Gillingham, Hull, Lincoln, Rochdale, Sunderland, Wigan.
Tier 2: Barrow, Carlisle, Cambridge, Cheltenham, Colchester, Crawley, Exeter, Forest Green, Harrogate, Leyton Orient, Southend, Stevenage, Tranmere.
Tier 3: Bolton, Bradford, Grimsby, Mansfield, Morecambe, Oldham, Port Vale, Salford City, Scunthorpe, Walsall.
Awaiting clarity: Newport County.
Women’s Super League
Tier 2: Arsenal, Brighton, Chelsea, Everton, Reading, Tottenham, West Ham.
Tier 3: Aston Villa, Birmingham, Bristol City, Manchester City, Manchester United.
Tier 2: Charlton, Crystal Palace, Lewes, Liverpool, London Bees, London City.
Tier 3: Blackburn, Coventry, Durham, Leicester, Sheffield United.