Return of fans to Harrogate Town matches in a few weeks may be on the cards

Harrogate Town is working flat out on possible plans for the return of fans to EnviroVent Stadium after the Government announcement this week allowing a limited number of crowds at sporting matches.

Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 9:55 am
Flashback to earlier in the season and the announcement of new sponsors for Harrogate Town's EnviroVent Stadium. Pictured at Wetherby Road are Town's managing director Garry Plant and EnviroVent's Andy Makin.

In common with the football authorities who run the sport, Harrogate Town face a great deal of work to be done to make its ground at Wetherby Road ready to meet the new Covid rules on spectators.

Staff at Harrogate Town are said to be putting in a herculean effort to prepare for what would be manager Simon Weaver's men's first home match in front of spectators since the club won promotion to the Football League (EFL) for the very first time on a historic day in August at an empty Wembley Stadium.

But their fans will be hoping there is a chance of returning to live football at Wetherby Road in as early as a fortnight's time should preparations proceed smoothly at EnviroVent Stadium and nothing changes at the national level.

In light of the complexities and uncertaintanties of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new tier system for tackling the pandemic, Harrogate Town cannot be 100% certain how soon fans will be able to see the club in action for real in League Two.

Harrogate Town's managing director Garry Plant, who oversaw the successful and speedy transformation at the start of this season of the team's home pitch at Wetherby Road from their normal synthetic 3G playing surface to a new grass turf surface to meet EFL rules, said it was not possible yet to give any guarantees over a timescale for the return of fans.

Mr Plant said: “We have a great deal of work to do. Every member of staff a working long hours and we have all the authorities to get on board including the Sports Ground Safety Authority."

The announcement made by Boris Johnson on sport early this week came as a bolt out of the blue to all clubs in the EFL.

Limited crowds are to be allowed in Tiers 1 and 2 from next week at sporting events and grassroots sport will also resume as part of an easing coronavirus restrictions.

The new rules say a total of 4,000 spectators would be allowed into outdoors events in tier 1 areas, or 50% of capacity depending on which is smaller.

In tier 2 that number will be restricted to 2,000 and 1,000 indoors.

Rick Parry, the EFL chairman, described the Government's change of mind on sporting crowds as a step in the right direction but said clubs still had a great deal of work to do to make the return of fans happen.

At the start of the season while their new pitch was being laid, Harrogate Town were forced to play their opening 'home' fixtures of the 2020/21 season at Doncaster Rovers' Keepmoat Stadium.

Harrogate Town, who beat Mansfield Town 1-0 last night, currently sit 12th in League Two.

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