Non-league NE clubs look forward to the return of fans – and their cash

A football fan is seen entering a ground through the turnstiles whilst wearing a face mask.

 

NORTH East non-league football chairmen have welcomed the return of fans as a lifeline for their clubs. 

The return of football will have a positive impact on the Northern Football League and clubs such as Whickham FC and North Shields FC. 

Since November 5, when the national lockdown was set in place, all non-league football was halted to help halt the rise of Covid-19. 

Whickham club chairman Ben Riley said: “It is not only beneficial, it is a must, as we can’t financially fund the running of the club without the income they [the fans] bring. 

“We are very excited about the return, as it is beneficial to our players’ and fans’ mental health to have some normality.” 

After lockdown ends on December 2, Government guidelines will allow up to 4,000 people to return to outdoor football grounds depending on which tier of Covid-19 risk they are in. 

Grounds in Tier One areas (medium alert) will be allowed to have 4,000 socially-distanced fans attend a football match, Tier Two (high alert) can have 2,000 fans in attendance and Tier Three (very high alert) will be played with no crowd allowed. 

Supporters will be back to watch from the stands when non-league football returns after lockdown.

 

A spokesperson for North Shields FC said: “The return of supporters is obviously welcomed as a much-needed piece of good news, especially coming out of a month-long league suspension for clubs at our level. 

“Trying to manage club finances during this period has been next to impossible. We are lucky that we have always run a financially prudent ship, but other clubs simply do not have the means to do so. 

 “During pre-season, we had to play behind closed doors. Then we were allowed 150 fans, then 300… then back to 150… then no fans just before the second lockdown.” 

With fans soon to be back in attendance, non-league clubs with little support can start to rebuild funds from the supporters in attendance, and will hope the rules are set in stone, so non-league football clubs can plan for a future where Covid-19 is no longer an issue. 

The Northern football league is set to return on December 5, following the ending of lockdown. 

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