We have today held preliminary discussions with David Burgess (MD) & Mark Turner (Deputy Ground Safety Officer) regarding the likely protocols as set by the government, EFL and police required for fans to safely watch matches at the Wham Stadium.
The current indications are that fans may be allowed to attend matches in early October with circa 33% of the stadium’s capacity being available so fans can safely adhere to the government guidelines, including social distancing.
However, it will not be the typical matchday experience as we know it at the Stadium. In light of current social distancing guidelines fans would need to be flexible in the areas of the stadium they are allocated. It may that you are required to sit or stand in areas of the stadium away from your allocated season ticket area to ensure we allow as many fans as possible to get back to watching our team.
It is probable that home season ticket holders, who will have priority, will be spread around all 4 sections of the stadium and, whilst keeping family “bubbles” together, others will have to sit, or stand, in areas as advised by the Football Club. I am sure all fans would support this and work with the club to ensure a safe return to football.
It would be likely that the turnstiles would open much sooner than normal to allow for a phased entry into the stadium, with short timed closures to allow for the sanitisation of the turnstile areas. Once inside the stadium we would need to ensure adherence with the current distancing regulations and areas around the kiosks & toilets would have restricted access/entry/exits which would be clearly indicated with floor markings and signage. A one-way system may also be needed to keep within the guidelines.
It is possible that some will need reminding of the required protocols and we anticipate that supporters, alongside the stewards, would soon advise any fan of any breaches of the safety plan. Obviously any significant and consistent breaches would have repercussions not only on the individual but may hinder the club’s ability to have fans present as games, which is in no one’s best interests.
The situation is still very fluid but the Supporters Trust welcomed the opportunity to discuss what could be possible if we continue on the path to recovery from COVID 19. We are sure that all fans would welcome the opportunity to safely watch our team again and would readily accept any short-term restrictions that may be put in place.
As soon as any start date is agreed for the 2020/21 League One season, possibly with limited fans present, the club will resume early bird season ticket sales and it is likely this will be the best way to virtually guarantee match entry in the near future and until all restrictions are eventually lifted. Further discussions will take place in the unlikely event that we sell considerably more season tickets than the norm and the number exceed the restricted capacity but that is one for the future.
Your Supporters Trust Board
22nd July 2020