Lewes chairman: We need to know now how many fans we can allow into grounds

Lewes chairman Stuart Fuller has welcomed the imminent return of non-league football – but has pleaded for details of how many fans will be allowed to watch.
How many fans will be allowed into the Dripping Pan when league football resumes?How many fans will be allowed into the Dripping Pan when league football resumes?
How many fans will be allowed into the Dripping Pan when league football resumes?

The government and FA said last weekend that larger-scale training could resume immediately, friendlies could follow in August and leagues could begin in September.

It’s a big step forward for clubs, players and fans but Fuller said they needed to know as soon as possible how many people – or what percentage of the Dripping Pan’s capacity – would be allowed in to watch.

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The Isthmian League is due to start on Saturday, September 19 and Fuller said it looked like the club’s first FA Cup match would come in the midweek of September 22-23. “It’s a very positive sign to have start dates but there is a huge amount of work to do to to ensure the ground is safe for spectators and we don’t know how many fans will be allowed,” said Fuller.

“It may be that the government say 30 per cent of capacity is allowed, but for us that would be about 1,000 and if we had that many, it could be chaotic trying to organise it.

“Additionally if the Premier League returns without anything like full capacity, there will be thousands of Brighton fans wanting to go and watch us, Worthing or Burgess Hill, and that will add to the pressure.”

Fuller said Lewes Women were due to start a new FA WNL Championship season on September 6 and seemed to be working to tougher controls.

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“We could have a situation where the men’s team are playing in front of a crowd and the women are playnig behind closed doors, which would be daft.”

Fuller said the Rooks were due to come out of lockdown in a healthy financial state and have a playing budget very similar to last year’s.

Squad shaping up

Lewes FC’s squad is taking shape nicely.

We reported last week that four players from last season’s first-team squad had rejoined, another four had been promoted from the under-18s and three had left.

Now Mauritian international Gary Noel, defender Christian Frimpong, attacking midfielder Dimitri Hatzimouratis and midfielder Ross Barclay are all confirmed as returning.

One player the club have reluctantly said goodbye to is Tom Day, contract offer the club made. Day had been a regular in the team since joining from Eastbourne Borough in 2018.