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Marcelo Bielsa hits out at UK stadium restrictions

Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa believes rules regarding the return of fans to stadiums are unfair as many teams will be unable to house supporters.

The British government announced new coronavirus restriction tiered levels for England, with sporting crowds allowed in tier one and tier two areas, but not in tier three areas.

Large swathes of the country, including parts of the Midlands, North East and North West, with Manchester, as well as Kent, are in tier three.

Most of England is in tier 2 however, with London and Liverpool free to welcome fans back to stadiums.

This means that 10 Premier League clubs can allow up to 2,000 supporters. They are Arsenal, Brighton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Southampton, Tottenham and West Ham.

However, the rest, including Bielsa’s Leeds, will continue to play their home matches in front of empty stadiums.

‘These clubs should not be punished’

The Argentine manager feels this gives an unfair advantage to clubs in tier two areas, who will receive support from their home fans.

“The power of each club corresponds to that club so there could be a rule that fans are not allowed in all stadiums or everyone is allowed to have them.

“The question shouldn’t be about the consequences of being in this category or that category, it should be about trying to maintain the competition as equal as possible with things that are controllable. I’m just applying common sense.

“The presence of fans has an effect on the result, but the competition says that people who are in higher rates of infection will be penalised.

“There is the case that these clubs should not be punished because they are in an area with a higher risk of infection,” Bielsa said.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce also criticised the crowd rules, believing his club’s stadium was capable of safely holding far more than 4,000 fans.

“Why only 2,000 or 4,000 fans in tier 2 or 1 when we have the capacity to safely house 20,000 at St James’ Park [capacity just over 52,000]? I think that’s unfair.”

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