London's football clubs were today preparing to welcome back supporters from next week, with the capital to be placed in Tier 2 of coronavirus restrictions when the national lockdown ends next Wednesday, according to a government website.
Clubs had feared London would fall into the toughest category, which would have delayed the return of supporters to grounds, but they are set to be allowed 2,000 fans from December 2. Clubs in Tier 1 regions can welcome back 4,000 fans but games will continue behind closed doors in Tier 3 areas.
A Government postcode tracker this morning showed that addresses in London would be covered by Tier 2 restrictions. The website crashed moments after it was put live as people scrambled to see which curbs their local authority area was put into.
Charlton's League One clash with MK Dons next Wednesday will be one of the first matches in London with fans since March.
The EFL is considering moving all matches on Tuesday, December 1 to the following day in order to allow cash-strapped clubs to start welcoming back supporters immediately. QPR could benefit if their home match against Bristol City is pushed back 24 hours.
AFC Wimbledon do not expect to have necessary safety measures in place to welcome a limited number of fans to their new Plough Lane stadium until January, however.
Arsenal will be able to host 2,000 supporters for the Europa League tie against Rapid Wien next Thursday and there are a series of tantalising Premier League matches in London on the following weekend, including the Gunners' visit to neighbours Tottenham.
Elsewhere, Chelsea entertain Leeds and West Ham host Manchester United.
Such a limited number of fans will cost Premier League clubs money and attention will now turn to how they allocate tickets. Most clubs are expected to use a ballot system to select which season ticket-holders can attend and may prioritise fans in the local area.
Tottenham proposed hosting a pilot event for 8,000 fans in September, with 4,000 in corporate areas and a further 4,000 general admission.
A 50/50 split for the derby would be opposed by the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust, who want the allocation to be determined on a pro-rata basis, reflecting the number of ordinary and corporate season-tickets sold.
In rugby, 2,000 spectators are expected inside Twickenham for England's Autumn Nations Cup match on December 6.
The Rugby Football Union had been weighing up the operating costs of welcoming such small numbers but reports suggest NHS workers could be among those invited. It would also allow London Irish to have the same number for the game against Sale on the same day.
Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn said he was in talks with the Government about the possibility of having 1,000 fans inside the O2 Arena for Anthony Joshua's fight against Kubrat Pulev on December 12.