Covid: Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta pleads to keep fans in stands amid case rises

Covid: Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta pleads to keep fans in stands amid case rises
22 Arteta
Carl Bennett

By Carl Bennett

Published: 22/12/2021

- 11:47

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 11:21

Premier League fixtures are set to continue, but stricter measures on crowds have been introduced in Wales and Scotland

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has urged the football authorities and Government not to make the sport return to being played behind closed doors.

A sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the Premier League had resulted in calls for a circuit-breaker but this was rejected following a meeting with shareholders on Monday which saw representatives of all 20 top-flight clubs involved.

While fixtures in the division are set to continue, another potential disruption on the horizon could be football going back to taking place without supporters after announcements by the Welsh and Scottish Governments on Tuesday confirmed more stringent coronavirus regulations would come into effect from Boxing Day, regarding sporting events.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s trip to Norwich, Arteta said: “Please don’t go back to that (behind closed doors) stage because we have experienced that and it is something we don’t like – so hopefully it is not what happens.

“It is a different sport. Football is all about sharing it with people and having fans around the stadiums.

“When it is not, it is a completely different sport and the competition gets lost. It is not the same.”

The Gunners were able to play in front of supporters during Tuesday night’s 5-1 Carabao Cup quarter-final victory over Sunderland and will be greeted by a passionate home faithful at Carrow Road this weekend for the clash with Norwich.

Elsewhere in the Premier League Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard admits it is “very unpredictable and hard to cope” with the Covid-19 situation at the club.

Villa’s home Premier League game against Burnley was postponed on Saturday, but Gerrard is hopeful the Boxing Day fixture against Chelsea will go ahead.

When asked about the Covid situation at Villa Park, Gerrard said: “I don’t really know because it’s changing every hour, changing on a daily basis. As you know, it’s very unpredictable.

“We’re testing every day, lateral flow and PCR. It’s changed in the last hour. I don’t really know what position we’re going to be in come the game.

“At the moment we’ve got enough to play and I expect the game to go ahead. I hope it goes ahead. It’s a game we’re very much looking forward to.

“But in terms of the Covid picture and the situation here at Villa, it’s changing on a daily basis, so it’s very unpredictable and hard to cope.”

In Scotland, fans planning to attend football games on Wednesday should stay at home, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said.

Restrictions being reimposed for large events means just 500 fans will be able to attend games after Boxing Day, but supporters have been urged to stay away from grounds before that date.

St Mirren are due to take on Celtic on Wednesday evening, while Hibernian face Aberdeen and St Johnstone take on Ross County in the final games allowed to operate at full capacity until at least the middle of January.

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