Like football fans across the UK, Torquay United supporters are waiting anxiously to see if they will be allowed to watch the Gulls’ National League opener against Stockport County at Plainmoor on October 3, after the Government’s latest Covid-19 ‘clampdown’.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the previous decision, to allow restricted numbers of fans into stadia from the start of next month, is now being reviewed as the authorities react to a new surge in virus infections.
The start of the NL season was delayed until October 3 mainly because their clubs insisted that they could not afford to play without paying supporters.
The view of Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, that it is ‘absolutely critical’ that fans are allowed back as soon as possible, is being echoed right across professional football and in other sports.
Torquay, who are due to play their first pre-season friendly at home to Hemel Hempstead Town behind closed doors this Saturday, have given no indication of the measures that will be in place when their supporters do return.
But they have been working hard for months with Torbay Council’s Safety Advisory Group on a plan which is understood to accommodate ‘socially-distanced’ crowds of around 2,000 at 6,300-capacity Plainmoor.
Fans across the NL, who missed out on several matches at the end of the last curtailed season, have been buying new season-tickets in the expectation that they would secure places at the start of the 2020-2021 campaign.
Now that hope appears to be in doubt again.