Newcastle United planning for return of fans ahead of North East tier announcement
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week signalled the return of a limited number of supporters to Premier League stadiums when the second national coronavirus lockdown ends on December.
"In Tiers one and two, spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing,” said Johnson.
If it is placed in tier three, the highest, then no fans will be allowed back inside stadiums at this stage. However, up to 4,000 fans will be allowed into tier one areas – and up to 2,000 in tier two areas.
St James’s Park, which has a capacity of just over 52,000, last hosted fans on February 29, when Newcastle played out a goalless draw against Burnley.
The club had drawn up detailed plans for the safe return of 10-15,000 fans earlier this season, but rising infection rates ended any hopes of an end to behind-closed-doors football at the time.
Newcastle – who consulted fan groups at the time – are now working on new plans for the return of up to 4,000 supporters. The club is planning for every eventuality, and hopes to communicate with fans next week.
It is a complex issue, as fans would need to observe social distancing and adhere to other Government guidelines.
The first home game which could see fans return is the December 12 fixture against West Bromwich Albion.
United must work out how to allocate tickets should some fans be allowed back inside St James’s Park next month. The system will have to factor in loyalty – and also take account of the fact that some supporters may not want to return before there is a vaccine.
Newcastle still have a large number of season-ticket holders, though the figure for this season has not been made public.