AFC Telford United hopeful of welcoming fans back to New Bucks Head for Notts County friendly this weekend

AFC Telford United are working round the clock in a bid to welcome fans back to the New Bucks Head against Notts County on Saturday.

The New Bucks Head could welcome fans back from next month Pic: Mike Sheridan
The New Bucks Head could welcome fans back from next month Pic: Mike Sheridan

Club officials are meeting with the Shropshire Safety Advisory Group this morning and are hopeful measures are in place for the safe return of fans this weekend.

After the EFL announced that several EFL fixtures will be pilot schemes to permit 1,000 socially-distant fans this weekend, Telford are aiming to follow suit ahead of the new National League North season.

The club have held successful talks with Telford & Wrekin council and trialled new safety protocols in last night’s friendly against Wrexham, which finished 0-0, and are optimistic of getting the go-ahead.

Bucks chairman Andy Pryce said: “With the news of 1,000 spectators in EFL stadia we as a club have to do everything we can to prepare for, if Saturday comes, then we are ready.

“I would love for it to be on Saturday. I don’t know if it will be. We will meet the Safety Advisors with Luke Shelley and other officials at the club. We’ve worked really hard to get the ground ready.

“For us as Telford United we just want to see fans back in the stadium.

“It’s been a long time, they’ve had to endure a lot socially and personally, If we can open our gates to 1,000 supporters sooner rather than later that’ll give everyone a lift including the football club.”

The news comes after league bosses appealed to the government to let fans in ahead of the new campaign.

National League chiefs have written to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden for permission for fans to be in place for next month’s kick off.

Football across the National League is set to return on Saturday, October 3 – when AFC Telford will be in FA Cup action. The Bucks begin their National North season at home to Brackley Town on Tuesday, October 6, where they hope fans will be present.

In a statement, the National League say it ‘fully recognises the overwhelming necessity to protect people’s health and wellbeing’ but the league’s restart ‘depends’ on live attendance as clubs’ largest source of income.

Clubs, including Telford, have calculated a reduced capacity, taking into account social-distancing measures, which are expected to be around the 20 to 30 per cent level in accordance with Sports Ground Safety Authority guidance.

But league bosses have asked the government to permit up to 1,000 spectators in all grounds as a ‘temporary solution’ from next month – following today’s news that the National League chairman Brian Barwick said: “The National League restart depends upon crowds being allowed back in stadiums as live attendance is our clubs’ largest source of income.

“The Government urgently needs to set out a credible pathway for the safe return of supporters, and to ensure our football clubs can continue to function, and to perform their significant role in the sporting life of the country.”

“We are proud to be a national competition with strong local connections.”

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