Clubs in London, Liverpool set to welcome back fans next week


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Chelsea - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - November 21, 2020 General view of the Nike Flight match ball Pool via REUTERS/Alex Pantling/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Fans of Premier League clubs in London and Liverpool can attend games when a month-long national lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 is lifted on Dec. 2, after the two cities were among those classified on Thursday as falling into high alert regions.

Up to 4,000 spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor elite sports events in the lowest-risk medium alert areas of England, the British government said on Monday.

While none of the Premier League clubs are in Tier 1 zones, Liverpool City Region and all 32 boroughs of London plus the city of London will fall under the high alert zone and clubs in those areas can welcome up to 2,000 supporters.

North London club Arsenal will be the first top flight club to welcome back 2,000 fans when they host Austrian side Rapid Vienna in their Europa League group game on Dec. 3 at the Emirates Stadium.

The club said tickets would be sold on a "first come, first served" basis to members who had registered for the ballot earlier this season.

Several other regions in England with Premier League clubs can also bring back fans including Brighton and Southampton.

However, clubs in Manchester will have to wait longer after Greater Manchester was classified as being in the very high alert zone in a list https://www.gov.uk/guidance/full-list-of-local-restriction-tiers-by-area published by the government on Thursday.

The return of supporters following an eight-month absence due to COVID restrictions means clubs must ensure local safety advisory groups are consulted and have given the go ahead.

Clubs also have to bring stadium staff back to work for the games, including safety officers who may have been furloughed.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar and Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris and Christian Radnedge)

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