The government’s new ruling on allowing fans to return to football stadiums is likely to put Manchester United at a significant disadvantage to most of their competitors.
The new rules, which will take effect from next Wednesday, December 2nd, allow up to 4,000 fans to be present at each game.
However, only clubs in cities which are classified as the ‘Tier One’, low-risk Covid areas will be allowed that full 4,000 allocation. Tier Two areas will only be allowed 2,000 fans and Tier Three, no fans.
Manchester is currently in Tier Three and as things stand, will not be allowed any fans.
The tiering is being updated this week, but it is highly likely that Manchester will not improve its Tier Three status, leaving both United and neighbours City playing home games behind closed doors and away games in stadia with fans supporting their opponents.
It looks possible at the moment that Brighton will be the only Premier League club able to accommodate 4,000 fans.
Southampton also hope to remain in Tier One but that will come too late for their home match with the Red Devils, which takes place this Sunday just three days before the gates are reopened.
With Liverpool expected to move up to Tier Two, it is possible that it will be just United, City, Burnley, Leeds and Sheffield United left in Tier Three, although Midlands clubs Aston Villa, Wolves and West Brom could be demoted on Thursday.
This would leave United and City as the only top six sides without fans at their home matches, which could prove to be a tremendous and crucial disadvantage as the season progresses.
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