Non-league football continues to be squeezed in Suffolk

Bury Town players look dejected after the final whistle sounds at Banbury United during last weekend

Bury Town players look dejected after the final whistle sounds at Banbury United during last weekend's FA Cup defeat. Picture: NEIL DADY - Credit: Archant

Non-league football appears to be being squeezed, with regards further new Covid-19 restrictions which are being enforced on several of Suffolk’s leading clubs.

Felixstowe & Walton United players celebrate Ollie Canfer's late goal to seal a 2-0 home win over Hu

Felixstowe & Walton United players celebrate Ollie Canfer's late goal to seal a 2-0 home win over Hullbridge Sports last weekend. Picture: DAVE FRANCIS - Credit: Archant

This was the case even before last night’s speculation that a new national lockdown could be imminent, which would obviously threaten to further disrupt the 2020-21 non-leqgue football season.

Bury Town are the latest to be hit. The Ram Meadow club have been continually reaching their reduced capacity of 400 at each home game, and the same applies to this afternoon’s Isthmian League North clash against visiting Romford.

However, the Blues’ income from this contest looks sure to be reduced by new restrictions, issued by West Suffolk Council yesterday, surrounding the rules on sales of food and drink on matchdays.

Bury Town published the following statement:

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‘Bury Town FC have received notice from West Suffolk Council this (Friday) evening regarding restrictions on the way that the Club sells refreshments to spectators on matchdays.

‘The club have been advised that we are no longer able to operate the outside refreshment kiosks on matchdays in the usual way.

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‘All food and drink purchased within the stadium must be ordered and served to customers who are seated.

‘This means that it is no longer possible to order tea, coffee or food from the outside windows on either side of the stadium and eat or drink while standing around the playing area.

‘From tomorrow (Saturday), anyone wishing to purchase food or drink must be sitting either in the clubhouse or on the benches outside. Food and drink orders will be taken and delivered to spectators sitting down.

‘We understand that this will greatly reduce the amount of people we can serve on a matchday and in our view does nothing to help keep spectators safe, however we must adhere to the rules or we will be breaking the law.

‘The Club have communicated our frustrations to the Isthmian Football League this evening as the restrictions imposed on us will greatly reduce our income on matchdays.

‘We hope that the Isthmian League may be able to seek greater clarity on these rulings which have not been made with sports clubs in mind.’

Chairman Russell Ward hopes to get further clarification from West Suffolk Council at the start of next week.

Other clubs have been introducing new measures over the last week or so, such as fellow Isthmian League North club Felixstowe & Walton United, plus Thurlow Nunn One North high-fliers Ipswich Wanderers.

Felixstowe & Walton United published the following statement on Thursday, as an introduction to updated matchday Covid rules:

‘Following a visit from Environmental Health at last Saturday’s match, and updated laws from governing bodies, we have had to introduce some changes to the matchday operations at the Goldstar Ground.

‘Football in front of supporters is on a knife edge at the moment and we urge all spectators to follow the updated laws.

‘We have been left in no doubt that failure to do so will result in matches being played behind closed doors or the season being suspended and fines incurred.’

Meanwhile, before last weekend’s home match against Wisbech St Mary, Ipswich Wanderers introduced new rules concerning Covid-19:

‘Masks will be mandatory in stands and areas where 2m distancing difficult. Please arrive and remain within your bubble of no more than 6.’

Similar new measures have been introduced at other clubs,

However, all this could of course become academic if a new national lockdown comes into play next week, with any new restrictions likely to result in the temporary halting of most non-league football up and down the country.

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