Lewes lead way for return of crowds to elite sport
Lewes bosses have spoken of their delight that their women’s team have been selected for a crowd trial.
Sunday’s friendly between Lewes Women and London Bees will be allowed to admit a crowd of 100.
It is one of a number of elite sporting events selected by the government to test the return of spectators in top-level sport.
The men’s friendly between Brighton and Chelsea on Saturday has also been selected.
It is a feather in the cap for Lewes FC bosses, who have been campaigning in numerous ways for help to be given to football clubs following lockdown – not least through the redistribution of FA Cup prize money they have proposed.
In announcing Sunday’s crowd test run,Lewes said: “The number of spectators will be strictly limited to just 100 for this match.
“A successful test will then hopefully see this number rise for future fixtures.
“Tickets will only be available online beforehand and cannot be purchased on the gate.
“As you can imagine, there will be some additional aspects to attending this match and future matches, including pre-declarations of good health, temperature checks on the gate and social distancing once in the ground.
“But we’ll be doing all of this in our usual friendly way!
"Plans are also under way for the readmission of fans at men’s matches. These are subject to a different set of government protocols for ‘non-elite’ football.”
Lewes FC director Charlie Dobres said: “Conversations on this started some weeks ago and we had to show how we would manage it, and we have had a successful behind-closed-doors friendly where all the stewarding was in place.
“It’s only 100 fans allowed in on Sunday, and that’s for a team whose average home crowd last season was 600, but it’s all about going up through the gears, and greater numbers will be allowed in time.
“It’s really positive. It’s great for fans and helps us revenue-wise. But for all clubs who don’t get TV revenue, this is just a step towards the nuch-needed return of normal levels of revenue.”
Tickets for Sunday are likely to be on sale today – check www.lewesfc.com or the club’s social media channel for news.