Shrewsbury Town push to become pilot in allowing supporters’ return
Shrewsbury Town hope to receive the green light from the government and EFL to become a pilot for a reduced capacity inside Montgomery Waters Meadow from September.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said supporters should be able to make their return in October, but the EFL are working with the government on the possibility of a pilot scheme featuring reduced capacities in Leagues One and Two when the season starts on September 12.
Town are keen to be a part of this and have been in close dialogue with league bosses, the Sports Ground Safety Advisory (SGSA) – who provided an 85-page draft guideline to work to – and the club’s supporter liaison officers.
Shrewsbury say that starting the 2020/21 season without a supporter presence would mean ‘further financial implications’ for them and many of their third and fourth tier rivals.
Town are putting plans in place to ensure that Montgomery Waters Meadow will be ready to welcome socially-distant supporters from the September 12 kick-off, should the opportunity be granted by government and the Football League.
Chief executive Brian Caldwell says that the Meadow’s 24-acre footprint means the stadium will be able to deal with social distancing measures.
He said: “We are all working very hard to ensure we are fully compliant and can get as many fans as possible into the stadium hopefully as a pilot from the start of the season.
“The Montgomery Waters Meadow stadium, with 24 acres on the stadium footprint, certainly makes life easier for us to deal with social distancing issues than many other stadiums.”
The club say it is ‘vitally important’ that the stadium is ready fully compliant with guidelines to safely welcome supporters in to watch Sam Ricketts’ side in action when it is permitted to do so.
Club SLO Mike Davis and Roger Groves are in regular contact with the club to help the football club understand the supporters’ feelings.
Davis said: “Supporters will have to understand it’s not going to be like it was pre-Covid we have 85 pages of guidelines to work to, but we have done this before with safe standing, so if there is a group of supporters anywhere in the country that understands the importance of the guidance, it’s our amazing supporters.”