December 11, 2020 1.31 pm This story is over 41 months old

Some fans can return to non-elite football matches even in tier 3

Teams below Boston’s division can have some fans back

By Local Democracy Reporter

A limited return of home fans at non-league football level has been approved for areas in tier 3 lockdown, but Boston United don’t fall into that category.

Football clubs at steps three to six of the National League system will be allowed to welcome 15% of their ground’s capacity to home league games, even in tier three.

This means that while Boston United cannot bring fans to matches until Lincolnshire moves out of tier three, the likes of Gainsborough Trinity, Grantham Town and Lincoln United can.

Action from Gainsborough Trinity’s defeat against Witton Albion. | Photo: KLS Photography

The news will be disappointing for Boston United fans, as the club prepares to play its first match at the new Jakemans Community Stadium on Saturday, December 12.

The 15% rule also applies to FA Vase matches, as well as FA Trophy games that do not involve an ‘elite club’, which is a club in either the National League or the National League North/South.

If an FA Trophy match does feature an elite club in a tier 3 area, that game must be played behind closed doors in line with the government guidance on elite sport.

The likes of Lincoln City, Grimsby Town and Scunthorpe United will also follow current government guidelines for tiers due to being professional clubs in the English Football League.

The FA gained approval from the department for digital, culture, media and sport on Thursday, with a few regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Spectators must remain in either their household or social bubbles, abiding by the rule of six, and not mix with other groups of fans.

All clubhouses in tier three areas will remain closed, and fans are being asked not to travel between tiers to attend matches.

If fans breach these rules, clubs and whole leagues may be forced to play remaining games behind closed doors.

All clubs that are situated in tier three areas are also being urged to liaise with local authorities to agree on capacity limits.

What are the steps of the National League system and where do Lincolnshire clubs fall in that category?

  • Step 1: Vanarama National League
  • Step 2: Vanarama National League North/South (Boston United)
  • Step 3: Northern Premier League, Southern League Central/South, Isthmian League Premier Division (Grantham Town, Gainsborough Trinity)
  • Step 4: Northern League Division One North West/South East, Southern Football League Division One Central/South, Isthmian League Division One North/South Central/South East (Lincoln United, Spalding United)
  • Step 5: United Counties League Premier Division, Eastern/Midland/Northern/Southern/Western Counties League Premier Division etc. (Pinchbeck United, Sleaford Town, Boston Town, Holbeach United)
  • Step 6: Combined Counties League Division One, Eastern/Midland/Northern/Southern/Western Counties League Division One, East Midlands Counties League