It’s football Jim, but not as we know it!
The last couple of weeks has seen the welcome return of fans into stadiums throughout tier 1 and tier 2 areas of the country, albeit in limited numbers with stringent policies in place, including codes of conduct for attending fans.
The Club, with a representative of the Trust in attendance, met with the EFL Safety Advisory Group on Tuesday 15thDecember and were provisionally granted a Safe Return of Supporters to Football Stadia Certificate for up to 1535 home fans. However, there will need to deliver an operational test event a test for up to 1000 fans prior to the full Covid capacity being introduced.
However, today, Thursday 17th December, the government confirmed that we will remain in tier 3 over the Christmas period, so our fan’s return remains on hold.
However, we will continue to prepare for the safe return of supporters to the Wham stadium for when the moment does finally arrive.
We all need to try our best to ensure that Covid decreases within the borough and get it to tier 2 at the earliest opportunity.
When we reach tier 2
So, what can the Stanley fans expect upon their long-awaited return to the Wham stadium, whenever that is of course!
One thing for sure is that upon the return of the clicking turnstiles initially things will be much different to whateveryone has come to enjoy within the Wham stadium pre Covid.
There will be restricted attendance numbers, no away fans, no bars and food kiosks and we will all be under scrutiny from the EFL Safety Advisory Group, Public Health Authority, and our own Local Authority who will want to ensure the Covid ‘rules’ are adhered to. The Club’s Operating Licence will be regularly reviewed so it’s important we embrace and endure the changes to the ‘norm’ as long as the restrictions are in place.
Whilst the timeframe for the return is still uncertain and fully dependant on the governments restrictions, it’s important that a plan of action is in place for that magical day when we will be allowed back to watch the mighty reds – To that end we are pleased to be involved in primary discussions with the Clubaround the Safe Return of Supporters to Football Stadia and also have a seat on the EFL Safety Advisory Group who have a massive say on the content of the Club’s Operating Policy.
- The Club will be publishing a comprehensive guide once things become clearer and we have already discussed some of the major points including
- Season ticket holders from other tier 3 areas should avoid travelling to games at the Wham stadium once Hyndburn Borough is downgraded to tier 2
- Stadium entry and exit – Supporters will be asked to arrive as early as 2pm to 2.15pm to avoid unnecessary queuing around the turnstile areas
- The turnstiles will be self-scanning with staff on hand to help and support when needed• You will need your season ticket and the coloured Covid card to EVERY game and those in seated areas will need to sit in the ‘temporary’ seat allocated on the Covid Card• You WILL be able to return to your Season Ticket seat once all the governmental restrictions have been lifted, although this may be next season (2021/22)
- There will be designated colour coded turnstile entry for each part of the stadium to match your Covid card and in most areas inside the ground there will be one-waysystems in place to lessen the supporters ‘crossing’ one another on the walkways.
- Post-match exiting of the stadium will need to be directed by stewards to give the best opportunity of meeting the social distancing requirements
- Supporters will be asked to remain socially distanced and remain in their seats or standing spaces unless using the toilet facilities and there will be temporary portable toilets for those in the Jack Barrett stand
- Whilst restrictions remain all supporters will be asked to remain within the stand to which they have been allocated to via the colour coded Covid card
There will be lots of things we need to do that usually do noteven come onto the match day radar, but they will all be necessary to meet the Operating Licence requirements, so we all need to grin and bear it, support it and get through it all together.
Initially the beer and food kiosks will remain closed. The Club are looking at the options of bringing in external refreshment vans, but at this stage it will be down to the outside authorities at what will be allowed.
There may be limited hospitality available with socially distanced seating and table service only.
The club shop will remain open, number will be restricted at any one time, and in common with the rest of the ground, all payments will be cashless, so make sure you have your debit or credit card with you on a match day.
Face masks will have to be worn at all times within the stadium and there will be plenty of new signage to assist as well as info on the big screen.
Once we are all in the stadium and followed all the protocols there will be 90 minutes of action to watch which is the very reason we are all willing to put up with the massive changes we are going to have to endure. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder – We’re sure the wait will be worth it!
As things gradually return to normal the Club will ease the restrictions and get the Wham back to the atmosphere we all remember pre Covid.
A Further update will follow!