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Harrogate chairman urges the FA to delay Trophy and Vase finals

Notts County v Harrogate Town – Vanarama National League – Play-Off – Final – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Adam Davy)

Harrogate chairman Irving Weaver has urged the Football Association to reconsider its decision to stage last season’s rescheduled FA Trophy and FA Vase finals behind closed doors.

The FA announced last week that both 2019/20 finals will take place at Wembley on May 3 – two weeks before fans are allowed back in to attend sporting events.

Harrogate secured promotion to the English Football League for the first time in its 106-year history in August when they beat Notts County at an empty Wembley in the National League play-off final.

“I think it’s tragic for our fans,” Irving told the PA news agency. “Can you imagine? Never been there in 106 years and we get there twice in the space of one year and no fans allowed. It’s really sad.”

Irving said he blamed coronavirus rather then the FA, but fully supported an online petition launched this week by the club’s supporter liaison officer Phillip Holdsworth.

“Well we’ve got to support that, we want the fans there and good on them for asking for it. It shows a bit of spirit,” Irving said.

“We want to endorse that and put pressure on the FA, but I do know it’s a difficult equation for them.

“All we can do is say to them: ‘Come on, please, really try’. The problem is there are four teams involved, it’s not just one club, everybody’s missing it.

“I don’t think it was avoidable. It’s another thing we can put down to Covid.”

Last season’s final between Harrogate and Concord Rangers was initially rescheduled for September.

But it was postponed again due to further coronavirus restrictions and the FA had been hoping a new date would mean fans could attend before fixture congestion prompted last week’s announcement.

“You can criticise the FA, but they were forced to do the same last week with the EFL Trophy,” Irving added. “They’ve just got to get the games in, they’ve got the Euros coming.

“It’s a difficult one for them. They’ve also got to get through the play-offs at Wembley, it’s a really tight schedule.”

Harrogate are 12th in Sky Bet League Two and a home win against Morecambe on Saturday would lift them to within five points of the play-offs.