The Telford stadium has been transformed so it adheres with new Covid-19 safety measures ahead of the return of supporters – which had been pencilled for the start of the league season next month.
But, after the English Football League gave the green light to pilot events at ‘elite’ level – the same category National League North Telford fall within – the club made a bid to try to house up to 1,000 fans for the friendly against Notts County this weekend.
The New Bucks Head yesterday morning passed checks by Telford & Wrekin Council, the Safety Advisory Group and Sports Grounds Safety Authority after a meeting with operations manager Luke Shelley.
Council chiefs recommended that 600 supporters would be an adequate number to welcome back to the stadium
The stadium, in Wellington, has also been signed off by the relevant police, fire and health and safety officers.
Now Telford’s bid to become the first National League club to welcome back supporters rests with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
It is believed the club are in contact with MPs Lucy Allan and Mark Pritchard in a bid to lobby the issue with government secretary Oliver Dowden.
The final hurdle may be the toughest for Telford to overcome, certainly in the very fine time constraints ahead of the fixture in two days’ time.
The club remain hopeful of being granted permission from the government but understand that time is against them.
Had permission not been received in time to welcome fans for the friendly against County, the club were optimistic at getting the go-ahead for the New Bucks Head warm up clash against Macclesfield Town the following Saturday.
But that friendly now hangs in the balance after yesterday’s news that National League side Macclesfield have been wound-up in court.
Organising a back-up friendly is likely to prove problematic given the quick turnaround and late stage of pre-season, when most other leagues have already got their campaigns up and running.
Bucks chairman Andy Pryce and boss Gavin Cowan both spoke this week about how the safe return of supporters would be a big boost to both AFC Telford United and its fans.
National League chairman Brian Barwick this week wrote to the government asking it to approve up to 1,000 fans as a temporary measure when league action kick offs on October 6.