Arsenal confirm no fans to attend Southampton game as London clubs banned from having supporters in tier 3

World Darts Championship also forced to move behind closed doors after London placed under tier 3 restirctions

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
Monday 14 December 2020 17:46 GMT
London to go into highest level tier 3 restrictions, Matt Hancock announces.mp4

Fans will be locked out of all London Premier League games over the festive period after it was placed under tier 3 restrictions along with areas of Hertfordshire and Essex, with the World Darts Championship also set to be staged behind closed doors.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United have all been able to welcome back up to 2,000 supporters at home games this month, but health secretary Matt Hancock’s announcement confirming tougher measures on the capital means that they will have to close stadia once again for Wednesday’s mid-week fixtures just two weeks after they were allowed to open their doors.

Arsenal’s Premier League encounter against Southampton was due to take place in front of 2,000 fans at the Emirates Stadium, but the club have confirmed that ticket holders will no longer be granted access to the match.

An Arsenal statement read: "We are disappointed to confirm that we are no longer able to welcome fans to Emirates Stadium for our Premier League fixture against Southampton on Wednesday, December 16."

Fulham’s match against Brighton and West Ham’s encounter with Crystal Palace will also take place behind closed doors, although clubs had paused ticket sales in the expectation that tougher measures were imminent.

READ MORE: London placed in tier 3 restrictions

The only Premier League clubs currently eligible to have fans in attendance are Liverpool, Everton, Brighton and Southampton, who remain in tier two areas, while Aston Villa, Burnley, Leicester, Leeds United, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion and Wolves have not yet been allowed to welcome back supporters do to immediately entering tier 3 restrictions after the second national lockdown ended.

With areas of south-west Hertfordshire also included, Watford will no longer be able to host supporters at Championship games - although Tuesday’s match against Brentford at Vicarage Road will come before the tougher measures are enforced enabling the club to welcome up to 2,000 supporters as planned. Queens Park Rangers will also be able to welcome supporters for their Championship match with Stoke City before the measures come into place.

Premiership rugby club Harlequins will have to close the Twickenham Stoop to the public for Sunday’s Champions Cup clash against Racing 92.

The World Darts Championship, which is due to get under way at the Alexandra Palace on Tuesday until 3 January, was expecting to welcome 1,000 fans for each session over the next two weeks, but they will now be forced to stage matches without an audience in similar circumstances to the last five months - something that left reigning world champion Peter Wright admitted left him feeling depressed.

"I put on loads of weight - eating and drinking - it did my head in," he said of playing without an audience. "I felt like 'I don't want to be here anymore' and 'it is a horrible place', but you have to try and find little positives. You have got to try and stay around for your family and stuff like that.

"When I lost the Grand Slam, I just thought I could just walk away from game and not bother getting up the next day. But that is just me being selfish in my head - other people matter."

Secretary of state for health Matt Hancock confirmed the news before MPs on Monday inside the House of Commons, where he laid out the need for tougher measures ahead of the Christmas period.

"We must act now to shift the curve because... there is not a moment to spare," Mr Hancock said.

Fans will still be able to attend the opening day of the Championship before the restrictions kick in, with a review set to take place for the post-Christmas action in the hope that the situation improves between now and then. Any fan who purchased tickets between 16 and 23 December will receive an automatic refund.

1,000 fans will be able to attend the World Darts Championship on Tuesday (Getty)

A PDC statement read: “The William Hill World Darts Championship will be played behind closed doors from December 16-23, following Monday's UK Government announcement.

“London will be placed into Tier 3 restrictions from 0001 on Wednesday December 16, which will prevent fans from being able to attend the World Championship at Alexandra Palace after Tuesday's opening night.

“That decision will be subject to a review on December 23, with a further announcement in relation to tickets for the post-Christmas action in the World Championship to be made in due course.

“As a result, the opening night on Tuesday December 15 will still go ahead with a crowd at Alexandra Palace, before the event moves behind closed doors.”

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