Linnets owner reacts to return of fans to football grounds

King's Lynn Town owner Stephen Cleeve Picture: Ian Burt

King's Lynn Town owner Stephen Cleeve Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Stephen Cleeve has welcomed the imminent return of supporters to watch King’s Lynn Town – but says there remain many questions to be answered.

The government has given the go-ahead for a restricted number of fans to return to football stadiums across the country after the current lockdown ends on December 2.

“I think it should have been done a long time ago,” said the Linnets owner. “But I am pleased we have finally got there. I am delighted because fans are such an integral part of the game.”

The number of fans allowed back into The Walks will depend on which tier Norfolk is placed in – that will be known on Thursday. In Tier One areas, the limit is 4,000 spectators or 50pc of the ground’s capacity, whichever is lower, while in Tier Two it is 2,000 fans or 50pc of capacity, whichever is lower. Lynn’s capacity is just under 5,000.

Cleeve is already hoping that Lynn’s fixture against Bromley, currently scheduled for Tuesday, December 1, can be moved back 24 hours. The English Football League is also attempting to move its December 1 fixture schedule to a day later.

However, there are many unknowns: whether fans can travel to away games, whether clubs will allow them in, given the reduced capacity might mean their own fans would miss out. National League clubs are currently receiving Lottery funding so there would be a question mark on whether that would continue up to December. Also, what are the restrictions on club bars?

“There is also an issue over the price of tickets,” said Cleeve. “Do we have one set price for all? The demand is there - I have already had people on asking about season ticket sales – but is it fair say on children coming in, for example?

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“There will be no change for season ticket holders and members, but we have to maximise the situation, fairly. Whatever happens, it will be great to have fans back because that is what it is all about.

Linnets boss Ian Culverhouse also welcomed the return of his team’s “12th man”.

“You fill this place up and the noise they make, they have driven this club along,” he said. “In the last two I can remember going deep into games where the crowd has actually seen us through games with how noisy they have been.”

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