Harrogate Town remain only Yorkshire club to see fans over festive period

For supporters in Yorkshire, the tradition of watching professional football on Boxing Day has been cancelled this year.

Fans pictured socially distancing at Harrogate Town's EnviroVent Stadium. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA

South, East and West Yorkshire, plus Tees Valley remain in Tier 3 of the Government’s Coronavirus restrictions for the rest of 2020.

Harrogate Town, Yorkshire’s only league club able to welcome fans over the Festive period, play behind closed doors at Oldham Athletic on Boxing Day.

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Town host Carlisle United on December 29 and Cheltenham Town on January 2 but although Tier 2 clubs are allowed up to 2,000 fans, despite a successful “test event” against Forest Green Rovers, and even though an extra stand can be opened, regulations have limited capacity to around 500, so only season ticket holders living in Tier 2 can attend those games, and Saturday’s League Two visit of Salford City.

FESTIVE SUPPORT: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA

Even Conference North York City are away on Boxing Day, at Bradford Park Avenue. Hopes York might move into Tier 1, where up to 4,000 fans or 50 per cent of capacity are permitted, did not materialise.

Barnsley, Bradford City, Doncaster Rovers, Hull City, Huddersfield Town, Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Rotherham United, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday must still play home matches behind closed doors. With the exception of September’s pilot at Middlesbrough, none have hosted matches since March.

Only home fans will be allowed when Bradford are at Tranmere Rovers on Boxing Day and when Barnsley visit Norwich City on January 2. Wycombe Wanderers v Middlesbrough and Peterborough United v Doncaster will now be behind closed doors.

Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony tweeted: “The Government just made mockery of that work/money spent to give our fans a safe space to have (a) much-needed mental break from this pandemic as they drive everybody indoors.”

Liverpool, Everton, Southampton and Brighton and Hove Albion, who host the Blades on Sunday, are the only Premier League clubs permitted fans.

The tiers are due to be reviewed again on December 30.

The Northern League remains paused because it does not deem fixtures financially viable. A January 9 restart will be considered five days earlier. Its Tier 3 clubs are allowed crowds of up to 15 per cent of capacity.

The Northern Premier League has responded to requests from clubs including Brighouse Town to allow matches on Saturday, and plan a full Boxing Day programme.

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