Leek Town working towards crowds back in September



Leek Town are working towards starting next season in mid-September, with crowds allowed back.

Chairman Jon Eeles has revealed the league has written to clubs telling them that is a possibility – providing the government guidelines about Covid-19 allow.

So, while he stresses that September is far from confirmed, Eeles is hoping fans will be able to watch football at Harrison Park in the autumn.

He said: “That has to be ratified and the ultimate decision will lie with the department of culture and media, but they are putting clubs on warning to get ready so it is not a complete surprise when it comes.

“That and the news the government is starting to look at relaxing restrictions, albeit controlled, is all good news for us. We are happy to start looking at it and preparing for that date.

“It is not feasible without fans at our level. We can’t play behind closed doors, it is just cost all the time and no income. So, I am hoping there is something around a reasonable level on crowds.”

He says one of the possibilities discussed is regulations and social distancing for crowds under 500 at Leek’s level.

He said: “It is all about whether we can provide a safe entertainment venue at that level crowd. I am confident we could. 

 “Because the capacity is 3,600, which we never get near, there is not an awful lot to do in terms of spectators. 

“There is a bit more to do around turnstiles and hospitality and the bar.  A tea-bar at our level, run by volunteers, which everybody goes to at half time, isn’t really a good idea.

“But you could easily space people around our ground. We are very lucky to have a stand which has a capacity of 600. If you said 200 people could go in there, I think we could do that.”

Leek averaged 364 last season, watching Neil Baker’s team go clear at the top of the Northern Premier League South East Division. However, they were denied promotion when the campaign was halted in March and the season made null and void.

Eeles added: “You have the odd time where you get 500 or 600 people and you might have to turn people away if they put a limit on it. But I think clubs have to start looking at providing advanced tickets and ways of paying cashless. So, we are looking at something like that at the moment as well.”

Although Eeles stresses a return in September is far from confirmed, he’s pleased to have a potential date to work towards.

He said: “The longer it goes on, it is more difficult to get volunteers back. People are forced to do different things because football’s not there.

“So we need a date. We need to make sure everyone is safe and it is in a safe environment, but if so then we need to start planning.”

The chairman revealed Neil Baker’s squad have been able to have a training session, while conforming to guidelines.

He said: “That was really well received. We had 16 lads at that, broken up into groups, on a large playing field area.” 





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