Woking FC note and are grateful to our MP, Jonathan Lord for adding his signature to the campaign to allow fans into grassroots football matches; the letter is reproduced below. We have noted the positive changes today to allow crowds up to Step 3. However we are disappointed that, as a step 1 club, we are still required to play our games behind closed doors.
The club will continue to argue to allow fans into Step 1 games and friendlies in the near future.
English Non-League Football: Let Fans In
We are writing to request the Government allow for the urgent return of fans to non-League football clubs, which are at the heart of our constituencies and for whose future we fear.
Our non-League football structure across England is football at its purist, often at the heart of our community, rich in diversity and a starting point for many a talented footballer but unlike League football cannot rely on broadcast or sponsorship income streams. Their gate and refreshment income streams are vital for financial sustainability even if beyond Level 5, crowds are on average, in the hundreds rather than thousands. For example, in Step 3, where Chesham United play, the average attendance for the 2019-2020 season was 393. While there are outliers in lower Steps many club gates are in double figures but enough with bar takings to just about sustain the club. Yet the fans returning to support their small local clubs is being considered in the same way as League football clubs, which is incomparable and ultimately unfair.
Many of our non-League clubs joined their wealthier League cousins in supporting their local communities throughout the pandemic, providing targeted and appreciated support for neighbouring residents, and in return deserve our support for the return of their fans.
While we appreciate the challenges of getting a larger number of supporters back into League stadia, especially due to fans having to travel using public transport to and from their clubs, non-League clubs tend to be supported by those within the town itself. Given we are now allowing indoor activities to resume in a Covid-safe way, we simply do not understand why non-League football clubs in outdoor stadia cannot allow their small but loyal fans back in through the gates. As representatives of these local clubs we fear that if donâ€™t do something soon, they will be lost forever.
Therefore, we urge you to consider the return of supporters to non-League clubs separately to League clubs and urgently open the gates and let fans in.