Club Website, Sep 15, 2020

The Chairman of the National League, Brian Barwick, has today written to The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden  CBE  MP, Secretary  of  State  for  Digital,  Culture,  Media  and  Sport to ask the Government to carefully consider  how its  pending decision on the return  of fans  to football grounds will affect its clubs, their employees, and local communities.

The National League has also asked the Government for permission to commence the new season on 3 October with fans in attendance with social distancing and other Covid secure measures in place.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the National League has closely adhered to Government policy and fully recognises the overwhelming necessity to protect people’s health and well-being.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 17 July that Government intended to bring back audiences in stadia from October each club has started to prepare for the 2020-21 season.

The National League has set the start date as 3 October, which is when 24 clubs would be due to play their first league match and a further 43 clubs are involved FA Cup ties.

In  readiness  for  the  safe  return of  spectators, National  League clubs  have  calculated  their ground’s new  socially-distanced  capacity.   Whilst crowds  could  be  accommodated  up  to  a level  of  20-30%  of  each  stadium’s  normal  capacity in accordance with the Sports  Grounds Safety  Authority  guidance,  the National  League  has asked the  Government  to  allow up  to 1,000 spectators in all grounds from October as a temporary solution that is validated by the Government’s approved pilot events conducted in September.

Brian Barwick commented, “The National League restart depends upon crowds being allowed back in stadiums as live attendance is our clubs’ largest source of income.  The Government urgently needs to set out a credible pathway for the safe return of supporters, and to ensure our football clubs can continue to function, and to perform their significant role in the sporting life of the country. We are proud to be a national competition with strong local connections.”