Majority of local football fans want to get back to watching games, says survey

Local leagues can return to training, with a possible return to action by September Picture: Bryan G

Local leagues can return to training, with a possible return to action by September Picture: Bryan Grint - Credit: Archant

More than three quarters of non-league fans are ready to make an instant return to the terraces when coronavirus restrictions are eased, but health and financial concerns will see others stay away for longer.

It was announced on Friday that selected sporting events in England will pilot the return of spectators, with a view to crowds coming back more widely on a socially distanced basis from the autumn.

A survey of almost 7,000 supporters across non-league football and the Welsh pyramid – conducted in partnership between the Non-League Paper and Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) – found that 77.2pc of respondents would be happy to return from their club’s first game back under a hypothetical October start date.

A further 18pc expect to be back within three months, but 4.8pc say it will take more than six months for them to venture to a match, or that they potentially will not return at all.

Socially distanced queuing systems (81.6pc) and the availability of hand sanitiser (80.2pc) rank highly among safety measures fans not intending to return immediately would like to see adopted at grounds.

Nearly one in five fans (18.9pc) delaying their return have health concerns, such as having been shielding from Covid-19, while 9.1pc will hold off because they regularly attend with someone who has health issues, and almost a quarter of all respondents (22.2pc) are apprehensive about the return of football.

One in 20 fans (5.3) said they would not be returning to games immediately because their financial situation has changed for the worse since the pandemic, while 81.7pc believe non-league football The research was conducted online between July 5-15, with 6,952 fans completing the survey.

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The FA has announced that amateur and youth clubs are allowed to return to proper training immediately.

Groups up to 30 people, including coaches, will, up until July 31 July, be able to return to competitive training before pre-season friendlies, which can take place from the beginning of August. Competitions are expected to begin in September.

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