Horndean boss Birmingham calls for common sense as non-league clubs prepare to welcome fans back again

Horndean manager Michael Birmingham has called for a sensible approach to be adopted following the news that fans can return to stadiums.

Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 11:11 am
Horndean manager Michael Birmingham

Non-league clubs in the seventh tier and below have been boosted after being told they can now open the gates for pre-season friendly matches.

Teams across the country have been battling for supporters to be allowed back into grounds, with the #letfansin campaign gaining huge backing as all friendlies involving clubs down to step 7 level were taking place behind closed doors.

But Birmingham has warned fans not to ruin the opportunity that clubs have now been given.

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Social distancing measures and guidelines will remain in place as the fight against the coronavirus continues.

And Birmingham admitted one slip-up could prove costly for a number of teams in the non-league pyramid.

‘It’s good news but it’s not over yet this pandemic,' he reiterated.

‘People have still got to be aware that at any moment we could be in lockdown again.

‘So please, let’s have a brain cell about the situation and not go too far.

'Everyone is going to be excited about getting back out.

‘Providing all the health and safety measures and criteria is hit, fingers crossed hopefully we can come through the other side of it.

‘It only takes one idiot to set it all back to lockdown again so you’ve got to be careful.

‘From a club’s finance view, it’s going to be great.

‘But it’s not going to be great if we’re back in the same situation we were three or four months ago.

‘What we’ve got to understand is we’ve got an opportunity to show, provided we stick to the guidelines criteria we can have people through the gate.

‘But if we abuse the fact and don’t respect the criteria and guidelines, we’re going to go back to being locked down and playing in front of no-one again.

‘My concern would be then there will be some clubs that become dead.'

The Deans lost 1-0 to US Portsmouth in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Five Heads Park on Tuesday.

Jay Ripiner was on target as USP defeated higher division opposition for the second time in four days, following a 5-0 routing of Baffins at Moneyfields.

Horndean now have consecutive home pre-season matches against Bognor, Gosport Borough and Hawks. The Rocks are first up on Friday evening.

And Birmingham is hopeful the Deans can receive a welcome financial boost with fans now allowed back in.

‘We’ve got some good friendlies coming up where we should get some people through the gates,' he added.

‘We missed out on the Moneyfields one (last Friday) but that happens.

'Everyone wants to see a game of football go ahead, of course they do, I just hope it can be done under the guidelines.'