Despite the government’s announcement on November 23rd that fans in some areas of England will be allowed back into stadiums following the transition from national restrictions to the revamped tier system, supporters of local Football League side AFC Wimbledon will be forced to wait longer before finally attending a proper home game.

 When it was announced by the government that London would be placed in the second tier of lockdown restrictions from December 2nd, sports fans across the capital were ecstatic as the new rules state that public attendance at spectator sport events can resume , subject to a cap of the lower of 2000 people or half capacity, meaning that competitive professional sport would have supporters present for the first time since March. For supporters of AFC Wimbledon, South West London’s only professional football club, the prospect of a return to football was made all the sweeter by the fact that their new stadium, Plough Lane, had just been opened in early November. Due to new regulations on football stadiums and the financial troubles of the predecessor team Wimbledon FC, who famously won the FA Cup in 1988, Wimbledon have not played a home game proper since 1991. Fans were disappointed, however, when it emerged that Plough Lane would not be opening its doors to the public just yet.

 AFC Wimbledon’s Chief Executive Office Joe Palmer explained in a statement last Wednesday that supporters would likely not be able to attend home games until 2021. Firstly, Palmer said, the government’s announcement has” come completely out of the blue” and “taken the entire game by surprise,” and so the vast majority of clubs do not have the relevant safety documentation to host such events. Secondly, all new stadiums are required to hold two test events with supporters present before they can be opened at full capacity. Palmer stated that he hoped that the first of such events will be one of our home matches in January.” Until then, Don’s fans must be content to keep supporting their team from their sofas.

 AFC Wimbledon currently stand at 12th in League One and face Peterborough United on Wednesday 2nd December.