Locking out the fans at non-league level branded illogical

Brighouse Town chairman James Howard says the decision not to allow fans into non-league grounds makes no sense after an end-of-season tournament had to be delayed by a month.

Organisers are pressing ahead with plans for the Yorkshire Trophy despite more than half the teams pulling out.

The original plan was for it to start next week but that has been delayed until at least May 17, when grounds are now expected to open to up to half-capacity. Discussions are ongoing with others about potentially joining the competition for clubs whose last two seasons have been declared null and void because of Covid-19.

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“We all want to see live sport and elsewhere in the world events are going on with social distancing measures,” said Howard.

Frustrated: James Howard.

“The ongoing daily statistics are very positive for everybody and we just felt football could have been a part of it. Amateur football is allowed and parents can attend games so we’re struggling to understand why we can’t have 200 or 300 fans socially-distanced in an outdoor environment when they can sit in a beer garden from Monday.

“Technically, we can open up our clubhouse with table service outside and serve alcohol from Monday but just can’t have football on. I don’t understand the logic behind it but we have to respect the rules.

“The whole purpose of the tournament was to create some optimism so we’ll try and remain glass half-full.”

Eccleshill United, Emley, Garforth Town, Ossett United, Silsden, Steeton and Thackley have withdrawn, leaving Brighouse Town, Campion, Golcar United, Liversedge and Penistone Church from the original line-up.

A number of pilot events will take place in professional football before May 17, including an FA Cup semi-final with 4,000 fans on April 18 and the League Cup final in front of 8,000 seven days later.