The London sports action is back behind closed doors
London sports teams face the prospect of playing their home games again behind closed doors after the capital was placed in the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.
West Ham, Arsenal and Fulham will now play their Premier League games in empty stadiums on Wednesday night after hoping to welcome 2,000 fans to their grounds while the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace will be fanless with the exception of the first day of action on Tuesday.
Only two weeks ago it was announced that for the first time since March, when London was placed in the second division for the first time after the second ban, up to 2,000 fans were allowed to play football matches. The move to the third division from Wednesday means the return of the audience was short-lived.
The Hammers had 2,000 fans when they played Manchester United at the London Stadium on December 5th, but none will be in attendance to watch the home game against Crystal Palace.
Arsenal said they were “disappointed” in not being able to welcome fans to the clash with Southampton at Emirates Stadium, while Fulham said they understood “the frustration and disappointment” of their fans that some were in the stands for meeting with Brighton.
In fact, the only weekday game in the Premier League that will have a lot of spectators will be the Anfield clash when Liverpool face Tottenham.
London’s three other Premier League clubs – Tottenham, Chelsea and Crystal Palace – will feel the effects when they play at home this weekend.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, whose side will host West Ham on Monday, said it would be difficult to play without fans again.
“We have already seen and felt the support they give you and what they have to do with the game,” he said.
“I also think – I’m not telling the government what to do – that we can control 2,000 fans who come into the stadium when they get off that level or however they want to do that to keep things moving hold. It’s unhappy to say the least. “
In fact, from Wednesday only Liverpool, Everton, Brighton and Southampton will be allowed 2,000 fans in the top division until the restrictions are relaxed.
QPR and Watford both confirmed that 2,000 fans would still attend their Sky Bet Championship home games on Tuesday.
The World Darts Championship was planned to have 1,000 viewers a day, but instead the biggest sporting event known for its striking crowd must be a fan-free zone by Wednesday.
The organizers confirmed that the opening night would still be crowded and said that with the government’s decision to be reviewed on December 23, “another announcement in due course regarding tickets for the post-Christmas action “Would be done.
The August World Snooker Championship only had a small crowd for one day before tightening restrictions forced them back behind closed doors.
Current tournaments take place in Milton Keynes with no spectators, but there is hope that the Masters in January, also at Alexandra Palace, can take on 1,000 fans.