09:00AM, Friday 04 December 2020
Maidenhead United expect to agree details for the return of fans to York Road in the coming week to 10 days after the easing of lockdown restrictions this week.
The club’s CEO Jon Adams admitted the club wasn’t at the top of the priority list for those discussions with the local authority and National League with the Magpies not scheduled to play again at home until Boxing Day.
However, Adams was keen to point out that the initial capacity for matches will be significantly less than the 2,000 headline figure which has been spoken about for clubs playing in tier 2 areas.
The Government has also confirmed that only home supporters will be admitted to elite football matches from this week.
The Prime Minister announced last week that fans could return to grounds in lower risk regions of the country from Wednesday (December 2), with clubs in tier 1 able to admit up to 4,000 supporters – or 50 per cent of their capacity, whichever is lowest – and clubs in tier 2 able to admit 2,000, or 50 per cent of capacity. However, when social distancing measures and COVID protocols are considered Adams expects the capacity to be less than 1,000.
“We do now know that the Government has published guidance that we will only be able to welcome home supporters to matches,” said Adams. “That’s been announced and confirmed. We would only have welcomed home fans at this stage anyway, but we know that.
“We still don’t know what our capacity will be. There’s lots of numbers being talked about, how we could possibly have up to 2,000 people in the ground, but it won’t be that level. It will certainly be below 1,000 in the ground. There’s a process we have to go through with the league and the local authority to talk them through the processes we’ve put in place and to discuss what we’re doing to ensure supporter’s safety.
“In truth, because our next home game is not until Boxing Day, we’re not at the top of the priority list in relation to that. The first game for supporters attending a National League game is tomorrow night (Wednesday).
“Clearly, they need to go through the process first.
“We’re playing at Eastleigh on Saturday and it will be great to be playing in front of fans again, but Eastleigh will have had to go through that process with the league and their local authority to confirm whether that will be the case.
“We’ll conclude our discussions over the next week to 10 days I guess.”
Maidenhead put robust COVID protocols and social distancing measures in place prior to the season starting, in the hope the campaign would kick off with a limited number of fans in the ground, however, although those hopes were dashed, Adams doesn’t anticipate a major deviation from the work which was put in by the club earlier in the summer.
“There was a lot of guidance given to clubs at our level about what should be put in place and the steps that needed to be taken earlier in the year,” he said. “They were developed prior to the start of the season and it’s just a case of reviewing those again with the local authority and National League, just to confirm they’re happy with our proposed numbers.
“The tier rules around the sale of food and alcohol are different now though. I suspect for our first game it’s unlikely we’ll have a bar open, simply because there’s no indoor drinking.
“We will primarily be focused on making sure we can get supporters back into the ground safely.
“So, I think there will be very limited services in the ground with regards to food and beverages.”
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