Manchester United will be unable to welcome back fans to Old Trafford as a result of the British government’s decision to leave Manchester under Tier 3 restrictions.
England went under a new wide-ranging lockdown at the start of the month as a result of increasing infection rates across the country, despite the worst hit areas - Liverpool, Manchester and the North East - showing signs that the growth of the virus spread was already falling under existing rules.
Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham clashed with the government over its obvious lack of economic support for Northern England, which was proven when the rest of the country was then given far greater financial help once the wider lockdown was put in place.
It had been expected that under Tier 1 and 2, the two most relaxed classifications in England, that fans would be allowed into grounds, with some stadiums allowed to admit 4,000 spectators in, or half of existing capacity, whichever was lower.
However Manchester is now under Tier 3 restrictions, which is probably a result of the Conservative government wanting to punish Burnham for having the temerity to stand up to him, and as a warning to other local powers who wish to exercise their own self-determination in the face of a lack of care, support and evidence.
For United this means that they will not be able to allow fans in to watch the Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain, or any other home matches for the foreseeable future. It is not clear if they could relocate their home matches in order to allow fans in at another stadium, nor if they would wish to do so.
There is no definite date on when the rules will be relaxed, despite the obviously low risk posed by gathering outside with low density.