The times they are a changing
Imagine starting a local football site in the midst of a global pandemic? The introductions to each piece veer towards social commentary way more than intended, yet here we are once again. In the week the Prime Minister warned of significant restrictions for another six months, local football has again evolved to fight for survival.
Durham and Northumberland FA’s announced that football can continue at Step 3-6 level but with further limitations on spectators. For the Northern League clubs that we cover, this means a limit on spectators of 15% of the minimum ground capacity, or 150 paying souls in simpler terms.
In the previous ten days Crook Town, Consett, Bishop, Shildon, Stockton Town, Seaham Red Star and Easington Colliery all recorded gates of over 150, a fillip for their coffers in these desperate times. By limiting crowds the local FA’s have reduced the main revenue stream of these clubs. It is a balancing act, as the stricter local regime could have seen these games go behind closed doors, but the ‘science’ continues to suggest minimal risk of outside transmission compared to other hospitality venues that are continue to trade unabated.
Clubs are also promoting the new NHS Covid 19 app, and whilst it has its virtues, it wouldn’t be amiss to think that the traditional non-league football demographic may not have access to smartphones with the most recent software updates, a requirement of the new app.
For the fan, these measures mean more planning is required, with the 150 cap potentially being reached easily at many Northern League clubs. As always, check ahead and check often, as it is a constantly changing situation.
Finally, spare a thought for the clubs in the Wearside League who don’t fall in to the classifications set by the County FA’s and therefore are not permitted to have any spectators in attendance. It is mind boggling that these clubs who are just getting back to some semblance of normality have this mindless rule thrust upon them. It is frankly absurd that someone can watch a game at Easington or Willington but not at Horden or Durham United. Hopefully common sense will prevail, but as we are dealing with football administrators, it might be best not to hold your breath.