Non-league clubs looking forward to having fans attend games again

PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:53 20 August 2020

Clevedon Town FC's Everyone Active Stadium will be open to 150 fans for their game with Weston on Saturday. Picture: David Kenneford.

Clevedon Town FC's Everyone Active Stadium will be open to 150 fans for their game with Weston on Saturday. Picture: David Kenneford.

Archant

A limited numbers of fans at clubs in steps three to six of the National League System have been allowed to attend games once again.

The Football Association have announced all clubs must have a COVID-19 officer and must follow the two steps in place.

The first step, which runs from August 22 to August 30, must see the capacity of the ground not exceed 15 per cent and a club must have played at least one pre-season or competitive fixture in accordance with their respective level of spectators before moving on to stage two.

From August 31, stage two will see the capacity double to 30 per cent within the updated guidelines.

However, they must be satisfied that they have been able to comply with the guidance of the Government.

“It’s great that we can have fans back, it’s just not the same without them,” said Portishead Town coach David Hewitt.

“Let’s hope we can get the start date now and get back to action.

“A club the size of ours needs fans as it brings in revenue and helps with the running of the club, so we need it.

“At the same time football needs fans as much as we need football, it’s just not the same without it.

“Let’s hope we can adhere to the regulations and get rid of this terrible disease and move on with life too.”

All levels of football came to a half in March after the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and it took four months before any game was played, but behind closed doors.

Now following the announcement of restricted access for spectators, Ashton & Backwell United manager Stuart Jones welcomed the news.

“It confirms the season will start hopefully when they said,” he said.

“It’s a win-win situation to be fair, obviously no wants you to play without fans for a number of reasons. It’s good they can have their girlfriends, wives, mums, dads, aunts, uncles, dogs, and cats to watch them again.

“It’s all about the fans without a doubt and it’s a step in the right direction for all of football.

“Financially football can’t do what it did with all the games behind closed doors, it wouldn’t last, and I don’t think anyone wants that, but at the same time everybody has got to follow the government guidelines with distancing and hopefully it will work.”

Clevedon Town coach Alex White admiited the club was delighted with the news and how great it was for The Seasiders to play in front of fans again.

“We’re very happy, it’s massive for us,” said White.

“Non-league clubs at our level are not sustainable without spectators so it’s very welcome news and we’re glad the authorities have seen sense.

“The games we’ve played have been odd being behind closed doors and it just loses that proper “match day feeling” and a few of the players have commented on it too.

“I wouldn’t be lying if I said they’ve felt like training game atmospheres as opposed to competitive friendlies and what better way to get back to that with a game v Weston this weekend.”

Clevedon have already put steps in place to ensure Saturday’s friendly between the two sides will be open to 150 spectators and once that number is reached the gates will be closed.

The turnstiles will be open from 2pm and admission will be £8 for adults and £5 concessions, with payment by cash or card and all fans undergo a self assessment for any COVID-19 symptoms which they must confirm before entering the ground and provide contact details for the purposes of track and trace.

The club will also check spectators temperatures before they enter the ground and follow advice from stewards so that everybody can enjoy the game safely.


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