Fans back with gusto in Premier League games


England back with fans II Image: Tottenham Hotspur

Fans of the professional football club in Liverpool, England – Liverpool F.C. – watched their side in pitch action for the first time as Premier League (UK) champions on December 6th. ‘The Reds’ clinched the crown for 2019-20 on June 24th this year.

Fans have not been allowed in Premier League stadia since the stoppage in March caused by COVID-19 which came as a bolt from the blue for the world and all games since have been played behind closed doors.

On the other hand, the English professional football club in Tottenham, London – Tottenham Hotspur – supporters saw their team climb the top of the ladder in the North London derby against the professional football club based in Islington, London – Arsenal F.C.

‘The Reds’ welcomed fans back to their abode – Anfield – with a lot of panache and they won 4-0 against the professional association football club of England, Wolverhampton Wanderers.

With London and Liverpool both falling under the second tier of coronavirus restrictions, Anfield (in Liverpool) and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (in North London) were both able to greet back 2,000 spectators – the first time fans are back in the terraces after nine months.

On December 6th, Liverpool fans greeted their team’s arrival ahead of the match against Wolves with chants of ‘Bring on the Champions’, with the players also treated to noisy renditions of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

It was the first time Jurgen Klopp’s (Liverpool Manager) side had played in front of a crowd since they lost 3-2 at home to the Spanish professional football club Atlético Madrid in the Champions League on March 11th.

The ‘Spurs’ ensured the first guests to their stadium this season went home pleased as Punch as goals from Son Heung-min and Harry Kane sunk ‘The Gunners’. Tottenham players applauded the 2,000 fans after the game.

The tier system meant fans could not attend Sunday’s other two Premier League matchups, the professional football club based in Selhurst, South London, Crystal Palace F.C.’s triumph over the English professional football club based in West Bromwich, England – West Bromwich Albion F.C. – and the professional football club in Sheffield, England, Sheffield United F.C.’s home defeat to the English professional football club based in Leicester, England – Leicester City F.C.

General admission tickets were made available in the Main Stand and the Kop (The Kop is the most-renowned stand at Anfield among home and away supporters, with the people who occupy the stand referred to as kopites) with a ballot having been held to determine which fans would attend. All seats were available to purchase as single seats only, in tune with social distancing guidelines.

Remarked Klopp, “We had goosebumps when we came out for the warm-up. They were so happy to see us. We were so happy to see them.”

Liverpool’s next home match is against the ‘Spurs’ on December 16th.

The weekend’s first Premier League match with fans was on December 5th at the London Stadium, where 2,000 socially-distanced supporters watched the English professional football club based in Stratford, East London, West Ham United fall to a 3-1 defeat to the professional football club based in Greater Manchester, England – Manchester United.

Later on Saturday night (December 5th), 2,000 fans were at the Chelsea’s residence – Stamford Bridge – for Chelsea’s 3-1 win over the English professional club based in Leeds, UK, Leeds United.

Up to 2,000 supporters are presently allowed in areas of England that are in Tier 2 of the COVID-19 alert level. The new tiered system came into effect recently, when a number of English Football League (EFL) teams marked the return of fans to the stadia fold.

The weekend saw more fans return across the EFL, with Championship team – the professional football club based in Brentford, London – Brentford F.C’s new stadiumBrentford Community Stadium – welcoming onlookers for the first time since opening earlier in the year. It marked seven years to the day since Brentford was granted planning permission for the new 17,250-seat stadium.

Elsewhere in the Championship, the return of fans to The Den, home of the professional football club in Bermondsey, South East London, England, Millwall F.C., was marred after some supporters booed when players took the knee before the match against Derby County F.C. – the professional association football club based in Derby, Derbyshire, England.

Players across the Premier League and EFL have been taking a knee since football resumed in June in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, and the move was praised at other facilities during the weekend.

The Premier League, often referred to outside England as the English Premier League or the EPL, is the top level of the English football league system. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English Football League.

The English Football League is a league competition featuring professional association football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in world football.

Millwall issued a statement saying it was “dismayed and saddened” by the events on Saturday, adding: “The club has worked tirelessly in recent months to prepare for the return of supporters and what should have been a positive and exciting occasion was completely overshadowed, much to the immense disappointment and upset of those who have contributed to those efforts.”

The club said it would meet with ‘Kick it Out’ and representatives from other appropriate bodies “in an attempt to use Saturday’s events as a catalyst for more rapid solutions which have an impact both in the short and long term”.

‘Kick It Out’ was established as a campaign with the brand name ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football’ in 1993 and as an organization in 1997. The organization works within the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and work for positive change.

Fans’ attendance in NFL fixtures

The National Football League (NFL) (US) has been hounded by COVID-19 since the deadly virus broke out this year with many positive cases being reported among its players as the fatal respiratory disease is causing maximum rampage in the United States. To that point, the NFL has extended some of its strictest COVID-19 safety protocols.

The professional American football team based in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in North Texas, US, Dallas Cowboys – are averaging 26,466 fans through six home games. Its past two home games against the professional American football team based in Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh Steelers – and the professional American football team based in the Washington metropolitan area – Washington Football Team – both drew over 30,000. And those numbers will only be increased if Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has anything to do with it.

Jones told mediapersons, “My plan was to increase our fans as we went through the season and move the number up, and we followed that plan.
And that’s not being insensitive to the fact that we got our COVID and outbreak. Some people will say maybe it is, but not when you’re doing it as safe as we are and not when we’re having the results we’re having.”

AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (digs of Dallas Cowboys) had its air conditioning system upgraded before the season and doors behind each end zone are open to allow fresh air come in during games. Fans in Dallas, much as at other NFL venue, are required to sit in small groups and are supposed to wear face coverings except when eating or drinking – but it is reported that supporters do not follow rules in toto.

The Cowboys’ attendance and policy on increasing attendance has come under the scanner as Tarrant County’s Health Director Dr. Vinny Taneja recently warned residents against large gatherings. Tarrant County has seen cases jump more than 500 percent since the NFL season started on September 10th. Two weeks ago, county health officials said eight residents tested positive and told contact tracers they had been to a Cowboys game recently.

“Whether it’s a sporting event, whether it’s a demonstration or any other large public gathering, there’s always somebody there who has COVID,” Taneja said before Thanksgiving which was observed on November 26th in the US this year.

“No matter how hard you try, people are people. They’re there to celebrate, they’re there to have a good time. You’re going to have some spread occur,” Taneja added.

Fans’ numbers (on December 6th):

  • For the NFL team New Orleans Saints (based at New Orleans in Louisiana) games at Atlanta, a limited amount of fans were allowed;
  • For the NFL team Cleveland Brown (based in Cleveland, Ohio) game at Tennessee, up to 14,520 fans were allowed;
  • For the NFL team Detroit Lions (based in Detroit) games at Chicago, no fans were allowed;
  • For the NFL team Cincinnati Bengals (based in Cincinnati) game at Miami, up to 13,000 fans were allowed;
  • For the NFL team Jacksonville Jaguars (based in Jacksonville, Florida) game at Minnesota, up to 250 friends and family members of players were allowed;
  • For the NFL team Indianapolis Colts (based in Indianapolis) game at Houston, up to 14,444 fans were allowed;
  • For the NFL team Las Vegas Raiders (based in Las Vegas) game at New Jersey, no fans were allowed;
  • For the NFL team New York Giants (based in New Jersey) game at Seattle, no fans were allowed;
  • For the NFL team Los Angeles Rams (based in Los Angeles) game at Arizona, no fans were allowed;
  • For the NFL team New England Patriots (based in the Greater Boston area) game at Inglewood, California, no fans were allowed;
  • For the NFL team Philadelphia Eagles (based in Philadelphia) game at Green Bay, Wisconsin, up to 500 employees and family members were allowed; and
  • For the NFL team Denver Broncos (based in Denver) game at Kansas City in Missouri, up to 16,811 fans were allowed.

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