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FA announces phased return of spectators at non-league and women’s games

Bradford Park Avenue v Curzon Ashton – Vanarama National League North – Horsfall Stadium
(Image credit: Dave Howarth)

A limited number of spectators will be permitted to attend specified non-league and women’s matches from Saturday.

The Football Association has announced a phased return of fans at clubs playing in steps three to six of the men’s National League System (NLS) and teams in tiers three to four of the women’s football pyramid.

Spectators will be allowed through the turnstiles for games played between August 22 and 30, providing their number does not exceed 15 per cent of the minimum ground grading capacity at these levels.

From August 31, clubs will be permitted to allow spectators to attend fixtures provided their number does not exceed 30 per cent of the minimum ground grading capacity.

If a club does have any fixtures before August 30, they must play at least one pre-season or competitive match at the 15 per cent threshold, before moving on to the 30 per cent limit.

Fans have been unable to attend matches played in the top 10 tiers of men’s football since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in March.

Step three of the NLS is the the seventh tier of English football and includes the Northern Premier League Premier Division, Southern League Central Division, Southern League South Division and Isthmian League Premier Division.

Tier three of the women’s game comprises the National League Northern Premier Division and the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division, with four divisions in the level below.

Regional NLS feeder league clubs and clubs at tiers five to six of the women’s game are also permitted to accommodate socially distanced spectators in line with the FA’s guidelines for grassroots football.

The phased return of spectators at these levels was confirmed by the governing body following discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority.

It will remain under constant review in line with Government guidelines and, if necessary, amended accordingly.