Big win for non-league football as LetFansIn campaign opens turnstiles at Leek Town, Newcastle, Kidsgrove Athletic, Nantwich, Hanley Town and Co



A limited number of supporters will be allowed in to watch non-league football below National League North level.

Elite sports will be played out behind closed doors when the 2020/21 season kicks off in the next few weeks – as was the case for the closing rounds of the Premier League and Championship in June and July – but there were warnings that small clubs will go to the wall without any paying spectators.

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston has now confirmed that fans will be allowed in for non-elite (below Level Seven) competitions – with social distancing.

That is good news for Nantwich Town and Stafford Rangers, Leek Town, Kidsgrove Athletic and Newcastle Town and all clubs in the divisions below who are trying to navigate an unprecedented year.

Guidelines will include fans not being allowed to gather in groups bigger than six and they should be spread out.

Huddleston added: “We have today updated the section on spectators to provide more guidance to clubs on the steps they need to take to safely manage any crowds. I understand The FA have also updated their guidance to reflect this.

“Whilst it is up to the sports to determine what constitutes the boundary between elite and non-elite within their sports, I am delighted that The FA’s definition means that leagues below the National Leagues North and South can continue with spectators.”

An online petition to let fans in to non-league grounds had gained more than 10,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

Clubs will be required to publish a risk assessment which limits the number of spectators – and spells out how people can arrive, spend time at and depart the venue while observing social distancing guidelines.

It is hoped that league seasons can get started on September 19 while the FA Cup preliminary round will take place on September 12.

Leek Town chairman Jon Eeles had told StokeonTrentLive only today: “Our FA Cup campaign starts on September 12 and the FA Trophy is September 26 so you can see that, even if they delay the league start, we’re not missing a lot of league games because we have cup matches in those early weeks.

“The biggest issue is spectators because, quite rightly, the league, and all of Step 4, have said league games are not viable without spectators.”

Test events are being held in hope that supporters will be allowed into elite events including Stoke City and Port Vale matches from October 1.

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FA Cup preliminary round draw:

Garforth Town or Whitley Bay v Dunston, Penrith or Pickering Town v Whickham or West Allotment Celtic, Kendal Town v Bishop Auckland or Hall Road Rangers, Glasshoughton Welfare or Knaresborough Town v Workington, Crook Town or Yorkshire Amateur v Marske United or North Shields, Frickley Athletic v Newcastle Benfield or Seaham Red Star, Hebburn Town or Hemsworth Miners Welfare v Pontefract Collieries, Guisborough Town or Newton Aycliffe v Tadcaster Albion, Consett or Sunderland Ryhope CW v Ossett United, Glossop North End v City of Liverpool, Ramsbottom United v Irlam or Liversedge, Ashton United v Maine Road or Squires Gate, Wythenshawe Amateurs or Shelley v Trafford, Runcorn Linnets v Campion or Albion Sports, Droylsden* v Litherland Remyca or Ashton Athletic (walkover for Litherland Remyca or Ashton Athletic due to Droylsden withdrawal), Mossley v St Helens Town or Cammell Laird, Stocksbridge Park Steels v Stalybridge Celtic, Daisy Hill or Colne v Prescot Cables, Runcorn Town or Thackley v Brighouse Town, 1874 Northwich or Warrington Rylands v Clitheroe, Marine v AFC Darwen or Barnsoldswick Town, Widnes v Longridge Town or Winsford United, Bewdley Town or OJM Black Country v Matlock Town, Sutton Coldfield Town v Belper Town, Kidsgrove Athletic v Chasetown, Leek Town v Sporting Khalsa or Boldmere St Michaels, Market Drayton Town v Stone Old Alleynians or Tividale, Newcastle Town v Halesowen Town, Cleethorpes Town v AFC Mansfield or Sherwood Colliery, Anstey Nomads or Sleaford Town v Worksop Town, Holbeach United or Kirby Muxloe v Sheffield, Quorn or Melton Town v Spalding United or Barton Town, West Bridgford or Dunkirk v Lincoln United, Ilkeston Town v Radford or Shepshed Dynamo, Leicester Nirvana or Oadby Town v Carlton Town or Loughborough University, Lutterworth Town or Staveley MW v Loughborough Dynamo, Stamford v Diss Town or Framlingham Town, Haverhill Rovers or Norwich United v Wisbech Town.





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