- 10 Feb 2011
Nope, that model still wouldn't work for non league football. If a club has to shut its terrace and only offer seating in its 200-seat stand, social distancing would mean they would only have room for 50 people to attend. Half of those would be club officials and board members meaning that you could only allow around 20-25 paying punters in. Based on a typical step 4-5 admission of £10, gate receipts would be substantially less than the costs of hosting a game!Our village bonfire/firework display is ticket only. You buy your tickets in local shops in the weeks leading up to it. Once they're sold out, that's it, you don't go. That was implemented to limit the numbers of people on the display field. Just some cheap printed tickets about the same size as business cards - works well enough. If something like that becomes necessary as the only way to open, then the clubs are going to have to do something similar and sell the tickets in shops etc near the ground.
If the football ground has standing areas, then either they close them and restrict attendances to the seating area, or they use portable barriers to partition off the standing areas into sections so people can segregate themselves by moving to a different area if they think too many have come into their area.
The rules/laws can't cover every eventuality. The civil servants drafting the rules can't visit every ground to do the risk assessment/planning etc for each club, all they can do is provide general guidelines. Ultimately it needs to be the club providing what they think is a safe environment, alongside the spectators having the option to remove themselves from what they perceive is a dangerous environment - i.e. flexibility. People need to take control of their own safety, hence the "stay alert" message. Clubs should already be well accustomed to existing laws re ground safety, at whatever league level - basic H&S laws apply everywhere. Covid is just another set of guidelines to put into the mix. Like any situation, if the provider can't guarantee a safe venue/attraction, then they can't go ahead (or they risk the full wrath of the law if they go ahead and something goes wrong!).
Plus, half the pleasure of non league football is social interaction - wandering around the ground, chatting to fellow groundhoppers, buying refreshments, enjoying a pint in the club bar and so on. A once a year ticket-only bonfire night event is not a valid comparison.
It's a moot point anyway as there'll be no more non league football until next season starts in August (hopefully), by which time I would expect most of the social distancing measures to have been either relaxed or removed.