IN explaining why Warrington Town will continue to welcome supporters to games in these difficult times of Covid-19, chairman Toby Macormac revealed the biggest impact on the football club following today’s Government announcement of tighter regulations concerns the social club.

The Government's position this morning while announcing a tightening of Covid restrictions for Warrington and other areas of the north west is that supporters are advised NOT to attend amateur and semi-professional sports matches, though it is NOT law.

“Today’s announcement affects the licensed premise that sits on the ground, because of the licensing laws, and that will obviously have a huge financial impact,” he said.

“On the football side, at the minute it doesn’t affect things because we’re under the same Covid rules as we have been.”

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Some people are questioning that the club has been allowing in spectators to matches since the league season started last month, although this has been happening at grounds up and down the country at clubs on steps 3 to 5 of the non-league football pyramid, now known as the National League System.

Macormac explained that the current rules are different for Step 3 football, which is not considered elite standard but is of a higher level locally than some other leagues. It is currently the highest level of football where supporters are not prevented from attending by law.

Town’s Cantilever Park ground is currently restricted to a capacity of 600 supporters.

“The Covid protocols and procedures that we have to conform to are the same levels as supermarkets, so that’s the reason why Step 3 football is allowed the amount of people it’s allowed in,” he said.

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“It performs those same procedures as supermarkets. The numbers are similar. If you go into any supermarket on a busy day, then you’ll see 300 to 400 people in there because the Covid provision is similar to what our step of football is.

“Whereas if you go to a Cheshire League game or a Warrington and District League game, you won’t see any of those Covid provisions in place and that’s why they’re not really allowed to have people in.

“I suppose the frustration for some people comes when they see people flooding out of grounds and cars rolled up outside the ground.

“I think there’s an element of the town that don’t realise the level we’re at. There’s some people in town who still think we play in the North West Counties League.”

Warrington Guardian:

Action from Warrington Town's 2-0 home win against Atherton Collieries on Tuesday night. Picture: John Hopkins

The chairman explained some of the protocols in place, including social distancing and signing in with the NHS app on the stadium's QR codes for track and trace purposes.

And he said that supporters in attendance at Cantilever Park, including those of the visiting teams, are ‘buying in’ to what is required.

“We’re just carrying on existing protocols,” said Macormac.

“The last change we had was where we had to install QR codes at the ground. We put a dozen QR codes up that need to be scanned on the NHS app and we’ve got hand sanitising stations. We’ve done everything that we need to have and more.

“That side is unaffected because it’s just recommendation from the Government.”

With regards to controlling social distancing among supporters at matches he said: “You’ve just got to keep on the tannoy permanently, keep making the social distancing announcements. We’ve got stewards that walk round and if anyone is in a large group we remind them.”

Macormac said they are now going to need to relook at the clubhouse operation on a match day, expects to take a financial hit and calls on other establishments in the town to do things correctly so that it doesn’t affect trading for others.

“The bar will still be open,” he said.

“The six-to-a-table rule that’s been in force for a couple of weeks, is still in force, but now you can’t have two people from different families at a table.

“So if Billy and Keith come in on a Tuesday afternoon, and have sat together at the same table for the last 10 years, when they come in when these tighter regulations comes into force they can’t sit together on the same table. They’ll have to be split up, which in effect will mean they won’t come in. And that’s where the impact is.

“For last Saturday’s game, we could only table-serve 50 on the matchday bar. We tried to turn the tables as quick as we could because you’re not allowed to take beer out pitchside – it’s against the law.

“So this Saturday we’re going to have to try and put something in place where only people from the same family can sit at a table of six, which is going to be an absolute nightmare to police.

“What’s not helping is that there are some establishments around the town that aren’t adhering to even the table-of-six seating, which is making it hard for everyone else.

“I drove past a venue on Sunday and people were clearly stood outside with plastic glasses doing pitchside drinking. That’s an automatic licence revocation and a £10,000 fine, and that’s what’s not helping because some people are not adhering to it. People with outdoor bars and stuff like that – you can’t have them, simple as that.

“Fortunately, we’ve been on to licensing and the EHO daily so we’re right on top of it.

“We’ve got a good relationship with them daily which is good for us so as soon as something comes in we’re straight on it.”