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Tottenham and West Ham apologise to fans for New Year's Eve fixture change

Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United have apologised to supporters after their Premier League fixture was rearranged from New Year's Eve to Thursday Jan. 4.

The league match at Wembley, originally scheduled to kickoff at 2.15 p.m. GMT on Dec. 31, will now start at 8pm four days later to allow more supporters from both clubs to attend. It will still be broadcast live on TV.

The safety advisory group would only recommend a maximum crowd of 43,000 because any more supporters at the 90,000-capacity stadium would put too much additional strain on Transport for London (TFL) staff and police, who are due to man a free all-night service on tubes and trains.

Last week, Spurs and the Premier League issued a joint statement apologising to supporters, who were unable to finalise festive plans after ticket sales for the game were suspended.

Spurs' statement on Monday read: "The fixture had originally been provisionally scheduled for Sunday 31 December. However, despite significant work by all stakeholders, the Safety Advisory Group could only recommend a maximum crowd of 43,000.

General view outside the stadium as fans arrive prior to the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace.
The match between Tottenham and West Ham will still be broadcast live on TV.

"This was due to transport issues, primarily at local tube stations whose resources were being deployed elsewhere across London on New Year's Eve.

"Following extensive discussions between all parties, a decision has been taken to move the fixture into the new year so more supporters, home and away, can attend the game.

"Once again, we should like to apologise to supporters for the delay in confirming details for this fixture and for any inconvenience this may have caused."

Spurs immediately released details of ticket sales, while West Ham released an almost identical statement, apologising and confirming that "away ticket and allocation details will be confirmed in due course."

The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust (THST) said it was "pleased" the fixture had finally been confirmed and blamed broadcaster Sky Sports for the confusion.

"If Sky had listened to the objections raised when it made its first choice, and had it not published that first choice before it was confirmed that the many elements needed to stage the game were in place, weeks of confusion for supporters could have been avoided. As could the fixture congestion our team now faces," a THST statement read.

"What has been shown clearly is the value of proper dialogue. When all stakeholders are involved and properly consulted, it is possible to find solutions that work. We hope this lesson is borne in mind and that we never have a situation again in which a scheduled fixture is not confirmed less than four weeks before it is due to be played."

The change means that both clubs will now have six days off following their Boxing Day fixtures, when Spurs host Southampton and West Ham travel to Bournemouth.

But they will both play two games in the space of three days in the New Year, with the match at Wembley swiftly following Spurs' visit to Swansea on Jan. 2 and West Ham's home game against West Brom on the same evening.

Both clubs will then be in FA Cup action a few days later, entering in the third round, with the draw scheduled for Monday.

Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.

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