Bury and FC United among non-league clubs fighting FA fan restrictions

Bury AFC and FC United of Manchester are among a number of well-supported non-league clubs lobbying authorities to change protocols on fans returning to grounds.

The Football Association released guidance on Wednesday allowing supporters to return to non-league clubs in limited numbers below the National League North and South.

Following recommendations by the the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, each club’s limitation is based on the minimum stadium capacity required to enter their respective league.

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Clubs will be allowed an initial 15 per cent of their league’s minimum capacity, rising to 30 per cent on 1 September.

FC United will compete in the Northern Premier League this season having missing out on promotion due to the 2019-20 competition becoming null and void.

FC host Barrow in a friendly at their 4,400-capacity Broadhurst Park on Saturday, though will only be able to admit 300 supporters – 15 per cent of their league’s 1,950 minimum capacity.

In a statement, the club asked authorities: “Why are we restricted to the same number of supporters as a club who has a ground less than half the size of ours?

“Why have individual circumstances and ability to adhere to government social distancing measures been used throughout the leisure industry, in pubs, restaurants, cinemas and leisure centres but football been treated differently?”

Fellow Northern Premier League clubs South Shields and Scarborough Athletic are also understood to be unhappy with the regulations.

The case is still more severe for Bury AFC, the supporter-owned phoenix club set up after Bury’s expulsion from the English Football League last season.

Bury AFC are due to start life in the North West Counties Division One North this season after agreeing a ground share with Radcliffe at the 4,000-capacity Stainton Park.

The phoenix club will be limited to only 150 during August, rising to 300 in September. As Radcliffe play a step higher, they will be allowed double those numbers despite playing in the same stadium.

In a club statement, Bury AFC said: “A small but significant number of clubs will be penalised for no reason by these limits.

“These clubs bring significant revenue to other clubs through ticket sales and have invested in stadiums and infrastructure which support a community, not just a club.”

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