Grassroots football. The heart of the beautiful game. Like any other industry, it’s been badly affected by Coronavirus and measures that have been put in place by the government. However, continuing restrictions risk the future of many of our local football clubs.

How long can clubs remain viable with a lack of support and answers from the authorities?

Clubs at National League level had worked hard to put plans in place for the return of supporters in October, however the government put a stop to this last week following concerns over rising levels of the virus.

Clubs at Step 3 and below are allowed a limited number of supporters at games, meaning that local clubs such as Westfields, Lads Club and Wellington have managed to attract decent numbers in recent weeks, but restrictions recently imposed on hospitality will no doubt affect match day income.

Clubs at Step 1 and Step 2 of the Non League pyramid are classed as ‘elite’ and therefore have been told that they, just like Football League clubs and Premier League clubs, won’t be allowed supporters at games for the foreseeable future.

This has left clubs like Hereford FC frustrated, with the club confident that they could put measures in place to allow the safe entry of around 1,000 supporters, in a stadium that has a capacity of just under 5,000.

Bulls chairman Andrew Graham said:

“Over the last few months, we have been working to the ever-changing guidance from the Government, the FA, and the National League that suggested that we would be able to start the campaign with fans in attendance here at Edgar Street, albeit with limited capacity.

“A lot of work went into those plans, season tickets were sold, Covid-safe seating plans were created, supporters rallied around this wonderful club as they always do in times of need, and directors, staff and volunteers put in many hours of hard work to ensure Edgar Street would be ready to welcome fans back.

“Supporters are the heartbeat of this club, and we are thoroughly disappointed that we won’t be able to open our doors for the time being, but as you will probably know, we have also been working on other plans, such as the possibility of streaming our games to those fans who can not attend. Hopefully, we will be in a position to provide more details on that front in the near future.”