Albion have welcomed the planned return of fans next month as a "first step" towards the goal of full stadia.

Up to 4,000 spectators will be allowed in top-flight venues from next week.

However most big city clubs are likely to be limited to 2,000 fans at best.

Albion chief executive and deputy chairman Paul Barber has issued a qualified welcome to the latest development.

The club are losing at least £1 million in revenue every time they play behind closed doors at the Amex.

That shortfall has now moved into eight figures since June.

Matches in front of 2,000 or 4,000 fans will not make a big dent in those losses but are a necessary first step towards large gatherings at the stadium.

Barber said: “We don't yet know the exact criteria as to how tier thresholds will be evaluated, but the Premier League has been advised it appears unlikely that any of England's major urban areas will have infection rates low enough to qualify immediately for tier one status.

“We welcome the news and it is a positive step in the right direction, but I believe I echo the thoughts of a number of clubs in saying we hope this will be the first step on a road towards opening up to bigger crowds in a safe and secure way.

“The Premier League has issued a statement welcoming this move to allow fans back, for the first time since March, but they also stress that the low capacities being permitted cannot be anything other than the start of the journey to full stadia.”