MX23RW : Sunday, January 24 17:52:51| >> :60:1163:1163:

Marcelo Bielsa leads criticism of regional fan return

Marcelo Bielsa leads criticism of regional fan return
© Reuters
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa is among the most prominent critics of the Government's decision.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa led criticism of the regionalised return of fans as part of the government's new strategy for tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

Bielsa believes the move to allow clubs in tiers one and two to let in a limited number of supporters will "penalise" clubs in the highest tier who must continue behind closed doors.

Bielsa's fears were given qualified backing by Brighton boss Graham Potter, while Bolton boss Ian Evatt described the regional system as "madness" and "crazy".

Marcelo Bielsa
Marcelo Bielsa has warned some clubs could be "penalised" by the return of fans (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Bielsa said: "It shouldn't be about the category, or the consequences of being in a category, it should be about trying to maintain the competition as equal as possible with things that are controllable.

"The presence of fans has an effect on the results.

"What the organisation says is people who are from places where there's a higher risk of infection, it means they will be penalised."

Arsenal will be the first Premier League club to welcome fans for a competitive fixture since March after confirming 2,000 spectators will be allowed in for their Europa League match against Rapid Vienna next Thursday.

West Ham's match against Manchester United on December 5 is set to be the first Premier League game with fans in attendance.

Potter, whose side host Southampton on December 7, also expressed misgivings but warned it would not necessarily work in the favour of the home clubs in question.

Brighton manager Graham Potter cannot wait to welcome supporters back to the Amex Stadium
Brighton manager Graham Potter cannot wait to welcome supporters back to the Amex Stadium (Nick Potts/PA)

"Sometimes the home crowd is with you, because you are playing well, and sometimes the home crowd can be a little bit nervous or frustrated and therefore it can work against you," said Potter.

"But I think certainly if you have got that environment, where the home supporters are really behind the players, there's a real belief, a real connection, then I think it can be really powerful at a football club."

Evatt, whose club, like Leeds, are in tier three, was more outspoken, adding to the Bolton News: "I think there is an advantage there – certainly having supporters that are trying to back your team and will them on, it can only help (them)."

Fans are displayed on the as West Ham's London Stadium
Fans are displayed on the big screen at West Ham's London Stadium (Justin Tallis/PA)

In respective statements, Arsenal described the imminent return of fans as an "historic moment for the club", whilst the Hammers cautioned that a "small number" of fans could be allowed to return.

All the games preceding the Hammers' clash with United – Aston Villa v Newcastle on December 4, Burnley v Everton and Manchester City v Fulham on December 5 – are being played in tier three areas.

Brighton, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool are the other teams in tier two areas hosting games that weekend.

In the EFL, Cambridge and Northampton were among the first clubs to announce they were working on piloting the return of fans in matches in the first week of December.

The Rugby Football Union has announced it will allow 2,000 spectators into Twickenham for England's final Autumn Nations Cup match on December 6.

Worcester are the first Gallagher Premiership team to welcome fans after the November lockdown, when Bath visit Sixways on December 5. The Warriors have confirmed a crowd of 2,000 will be able to attend the match.

The RFU says 2,000 spectators will be able to attend England's final international match of the year on December 6
The RFU says 2,000 spectators will be able to attend England's final international match of the year on December 6 (Adam Davy/PA)

The PA news agency understands World Snooker Tour officials are exploring the possibility of allowing some fans to watch next week's final stages of the UK Championship in Milton Keynes.

Racegoers could return to courses as early as Wednesday, with Ludlow, Lingfield, Haydock and Kempton all in tier two areas.

ID:423959:cQx
Latest coronavirus PSA banner

Coronavirus outbreak - Click here for more stories

Click here for more stories about Marcelo Bielsa

Click here for more stories about Arsenal

Share this article now:
Did you know...?
A woman wearing a mask walks by the Emirates Stadium after manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus and their Premier League match against Brighton on Saturday has been cancelled on March 13, 2020
Read Next:
Arsenal to have fans in attendance for clash with Rapid Vienna
>
Latest Sports Video
Sports Mole Logo
Enter your email address to subscribe to Sports Mole's free daily transfer newsletter! Sent twice a day during the transfer window.

rhs 2.0
Todays Game Header Right
Championship
FA Cup
La Liga
Serie A
Bundesliga
Ligue 1
Eredivisie
Primeira Liga
Scottish League Cup
Turkish Super Lig
Belgian Pro League
Greek Superleague
Swiss Super League
Segunda Division
Serie B
2.Bundesliga
Eerste Divisie
Brasileiro
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Australian A-League
Premier League 2 - Div 1
Women's Super League
African Nations Championship
NFL
8.05pm
Buccaneers
@
Packers
11.40pm
Bills
@
Chiefs
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester UnitedMan Utd19124336251140
2Manchester CityMan City18115231131838
3Leicester CityLeicester19122535211438
4Liverpool1997337221534
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs1896333171633
6Everton1710252821732
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham199552722532
8Aston Villa1792631181329
9Chelsea1985633231029
10Southampton188552621529
11Arsenal198382319427
12Leeds UnitedLeeds187293034-423
13Crystal Palace196582233-1123
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves196492129-822
15Burnley185491022-1219
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle1954101832-1419
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton193882229-717
18Fulham1826101527-1212
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom1925121543-2811
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd1912161032-225

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!