At long last, fans will be back in the stands for football matches across the Premier League.
Starting on December 2nd, fans in certain parts of England will be allowed into stadiums for the first time since the country shut down back in March. The number of fans allowed in is determined by the COVID tier of the surrounding area. Tier one areas can have up to 4,000 spectators while Tier two can have up to 2,000. Tier 3 three regions can not have fans at this moment.
Most of England is in tier one or two, which is good news for many Premier League clubs who are itching to have their faithful supporters return to the ground during matches.
Their absence has been sorely missed, especially from clubs who heavily rely on that extra push from fans to put them over the line in certain matches. Fans don’t just provide positive reinforcement. A negative response from the crowd can be a motivator for the players in many circumstances and as we all know, English football fans have no problem calling their club out on their mistakes.
Let’s take a look at how fans returning to Premier League grounds will impact the season going forward.
No league quite has as big of a home-field advantage as the Premier League. The fans are some of the most passionate in the world and as a result, removing them from matches has hurt the overall success of certain clubs.
The big teams, like Liverpool and Arsenal, are obviously missing their massive fanbases, but it’s the small clubs that people often overlook when it comes to home-field advantage. Leeds United is a perfect example of a small club who statistically gains a huge advantage when fans are in the stands. According to FootyStats, Leeds had a 12% home advantage when they played in the Championship last year. Not only that, but they scored 4% more goals.
This season, with no fans, their performance is down 9% with goals also down by a massive margin of 23%.
Fans make a difference.
Leeds currently sits 14th in the table, seven points out of relegation and just four points behind seventh-place Aston Villa. The difference between no fans and fans is drastic. If they can get their supporters back in their seats for a majority of the rest of the season, they could absolutely shoot up the table.
Struggling at Home
They’re not the only club suffering without fans. Manchester United is struggling massively at home this season.
Old Trafford is normally one of the hardest places in Europe to snatch an away win, but that’s not the case for this season. United have only won one match at OT this campaign, losing to Tottenham 6-1 and Crystal Palace 3-1 during their horrid home start. Their struggles at home have been a large reason as to why last year’s third-place team currently sits all the way back in 10th.
With their fanbase back at the ground, Man United may get the extra push they need for a top-four run in the latter part of the season.
Effecting the Finish
Fans returning is a much bigger deal than people think as it relates to how teams finish in the season.
London, due to their status as a tier-three COVID zone, will have fewer fans allowed at first than most other parts of England.
Will this cause top teams like Chelsea to slip down the table while they play at an empty stadium while other teams have their stands partially filled?
We’ll have to see, but this news is a massive development in a rapidly changing season.
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