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New fears UEFA could move West Ham fan ban to Europa League knockout stage

New fears UEFA could move West Ham fan ban to Europa League knockout stage after lockdown was announced over in Austria starting on Monday.

West Ham fans were raging after UEFA banned them from the Europa League group game at Rapid Wien next Thursday due to disturbances in previous games.

Thousands of Hammers fans – myself included – already had match tickets, flights and accommodation booked.

West Ham this week reluctantly accepted the UEFA ban.

Photo by Joris Verwijst BSR Agency Getty Images

The Hammers were mindful of the very real risk that should they lose an appeal against the punishment, the ban could carry over to the club’s next Europa League away game – likely denying supporters the chance to cheer the team on in the away leg of a crucial last 16 tie in March.

Well there are now fears that could be the case anyway after Austria was plunged into a full national lockdown.

The Austrian lockdown starts on Monday, three days before West Ham are due to play Rapid Wien in the country.

It means the match – which is expected to go ahead given UEFA games were taking place without fans in previous lockdowns – will be played behind closed doors.

Rapid Wien and West Ham fans clash during the Europa League home match. Photo by Justin Setterfield Getty Images

New fears UEFA could move West Ham fan ban after lockdown twist

That eliminates any potential advantage for Rapid Wien.

But there are now fears among some West Ham fans that the UEFA ban will be shifted to the next available away game that Hammers fans could attend – likely to be the last 16 tie.

At the moment those fears are unfounded with no word as yet from UEFA or West Ham.

Photo by Matija Habljak Pixsell MB Media Getty Images

In reality West Ham are unable to serve the punishment meted out to them.

But it is not the fault of West Ham that Covid restrictions have superseded UEFA’s sanctions.

It would be unbelievably harsh if UEFA were to kick the can down the road in terms of the West Ham fan ban.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI AFP via Getty Images

And it would deny West Ham fans a memorable trip abroad to cheer on their team in European knockout football for the first time in a generation.

West Ham are already through to the knockout stages but are expected to secure top spot and a place in the last 16.

It remains to be seen whether the Hammers faithful will be allowed to be in attendance cheering David Moyes and his side on.

More West Ham news:

Rival boss admits Moyes target could be sold in January.

Glenn Hoddle makes major statement on West Ham star Declan Rice.

David Sullivan responds to West Ham striker arrangement.

Bizarre world record set at West Ham’s London Stadium.

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