CompetitionsPremier League

Liverpool welcome fans to Anfield for first time as Premier League champions

Xenia Sports – London 

Liverpool fans watched their side in action for the first time as Premier League champions, Tottenham supporters saw their team go top of the table with victory in the north London derby and England rugby followers witnessed the most dramatic of Twickenham triumphs on Sunday.

With London and Liverpool in the second tier of coronavirus restrictions, Anfield and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium were both able to welcome 2,000 spectators – the first time fans had been in the stands for nine months.

Supporters were back at the home of English rugby for the first time in nine months too as 2,000 of them saw England beat France 22-19 in sudden-death extra time to win the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup.

Liverpool fans greeted their team’s arrival ahead of the match against Wolves with chants of ‘Bring on the champions’, with the players also treated to noisy renditions of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

It was the first time Jurgen Klopp’s side had played in front of a crowd since they lost 3-2 at home to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on March 11.

Tottenham ensured the first visitors to their stadium this season went home happy as goals from Son Heung-min and Harry Kane sunk Arsenal.

For England’s rugby players, Sunday’s match was their first with spectators since the 33-30 success over Wales in the Guinness Six Nations at HQ on March 7.

On that occasion 81,522 fans were in attendance, with rather fewer there to see the nail-biting win over France, with the return of supporters a very gradual process.

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, co-owner of League Two side Salford, questioned that approach during an interview on Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

He told Sky News: “I do think this idea that Salford City if they were to come into tier two in two weeks, could have 2,000, but Manchester United who’ve got a 75,000 stadium could have 2,000 is just madness.

“Surely Manchester United could house more than 2,000 people safely and socially distance?

“At Salford, we might only be able to hold 1,200. So again it’s this blanket approach, this lack of bespoke approach to different situations.”

The tier system meant fans could not attend Sunday’s other two Premier League games, Crystal Palace’s win at West Brom and Sheffield United’s home defeat to Leicester, but matches in the Women’s Super League did welcome spectators.

Chelsea’s 3-2 win over West Ham, which kicked off at 1230, was the first women’s top-flight fixture to be played in front of a crowd since 734 supporters saw Arsenal thrash the Hammers 9-1 at Chigwell Construction Stadium in September.

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