Morecambe plan ahead for fans' possible return to matches

Morecambe co-chairman Rod Taylor believed the club’s midweek match with Workington proved beneficial both on and off the pitch.

By Gavin Browne
Friday, 28th August 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 28th August 2020, 6:56 pm
Morecambe met Workington behind closed doors in midweek Picture: Morecambe FC

The Shrimps continued their build-up to the new season with a 1-0 victory at the Mazuma Stadium.

Off the pitch, the behind-closed-doors friendly allowed the club a trial run in terms of how their matchday operations will be affected as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was a good workout for the players and it was only their second game after the Manchester United friendly after all,” said Taylor

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“It was fine off the pitch but it was a bit strange having no spectators and almost more stewards than officials.

“There were a few little things we learned along the way but it is a learning process for everyone involved.

“It will keep evolving along the way from friendlies to league games, and then to stage five which is having spectators in the ground.”

The Shrimps are due to host a competitive game for the first time since February on September 8 when Rochdale visit for the first EFL Trophy group stage game.

The government is aiming to have fans back in stadiums from October 1 which would mean the game with Port Vale 48 hours later could see supporters back in attendance.

However, that remains dependent on successful pilot events taking place during the remainder of August and September.

Certain football, cricket, rugby union, horse racing, basketball and speedway fixtures are set to be trialled, the last of which is the non-league finals day for the FA Trophy and FA Vase at Wembley on September 27.

It means a definitive answer on October’s proposed return of supporters may only be known a few days beforehand.

Even then, the likelihood is that clubs will be operating with reduced levels of admission in the short term.

With that in mind, the Shrimps are currently trying to establish how many fans they could accommodate in a safe, socially-distanced environment.

Taylor said: “We’re putting our plan together and the guys responsible have done a lot of work.

“It’s a massive operation. We’ve got to do the same policies and practices as a Championship club for instance.

“We’re looking at numbers with our safety advisory group, which I think we’ll have in place early next week.

“Then we’ll perhaps have a test game or something like that but we’ve got to take it a day at a time and do the best we can.

“We’re looking at options for a test game and the safety officer, Graham Brennan, is working on that at the moment.

“As soon as we’ve got a game identified, then we can take it from there and start planning ahead.”

In the interim, the club has announced season ticket holders will be able to watch all home league matches via the iFollow streaming service free of charge until crowds are allowed back into the Mazuma Stadium.

It means those fans who have purchased season tickets can watch all home league games this season, while non-season ticket holders in the UK can purchase iFollow match passes for £10.

The EFL has set a deadline of October 3, by which date those seeking complimentary iFollow match passes for home fixtures must have purchased their season ticket.

It has also been confirmed that once the club can admit fans again, then season ticket holders will be given priority.

Should the number of season ticket holders be larger than the attendance figure allowed, then those unable to attend will be provided with an iFollow match pass.

The EFL has also confirmed that clubs in Leagues One and Two cannot provide access to any away match, live on Sky or not, within a season ticket package.

In terms of the Carabao Cup, first round matches that haven’t been selected for live broadcast on Sky Sports can be streamed by clubs.

These will only be available on a match pass basis, priced at £10.