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Supporters call

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By Euan Maxwell
Sport
Supporters call

ANNAN Athletic chairman Philip Jones has warned that supporters must be allowed to get back into football grounds or clubs across the country could be wiped out.

The message from Mr Jones comes after Annan’s behind closed doors pre-season friendly with Dalbeattie Star at Galabank on Saturday.

Supporters weren’t allowed to attend Annan’s 3-1 victory but a selected amount of fans were able to watch the game via a stream at the clubhouse, located only 30 or so yards away from the Galabank pitch.

Mr Jones said: “What is the difference sitting in the social club than sitting outside socially distant in a far more controlled atmosphere? From the clubhouse it is about 30 yards away from the pitch, it’s madness.

“You can go to a public park, down the street, into supermarkets and mix happily whilst being socially distanced. Going into a football ground should be treated the same.

“It would be organised, there would be track and trace, fans would have to book seats and would have staggered entry and exit times. Everything would be in place to make sure that we are doing everything right.”

The first test live stream event saw a handful of Annan supporters in the clubhouse – which is allowed to hold a maximum of 42 people. Annan are allowed to stream games into the clubhouse as it isn’t officially inside the ground.

Mr Jones has confirmed the club will continue to stream games into the clubhouse – excluding Tuesday’s Betfred Cup match with Premiership side Hamilton Accies – but is still left bemused by the no-fan policy.

He added: “It was the first test we had a few in. We are allowed to stream games into the clubhouse. People are going to be sitting yards away from the game watching the stream in the pub, it’s mental.

“It’s not an even set of rules. It has been a one size fits all to get the Scottish Premiership up and running. It just doesn’t make any sense. We can control it more than a pub and supermarkets in my opinion.”

Mr Jones has warned football clubs across the country could be on their knees if the situation hasn’t progressed in the near future. He states Annan will lose around £100,000 from this season because of the restrictions in place.

He said: “That’s from season tickets, tickets, hospitality and other matchday revenue. It’s how long can you survive without this income. We’ve got very little reserves. Once the players are back into monthly wages it’s going to be very difficult.

“People don’t want to take season tickets out because they won’t be getting into the ground. There has to be an alternative because there’s hundreds of clubs across the country who could be wiped out because of this.”

Meanwhile, Annan boss Peter Murphy has added to his squad ahead of their opening League Cup games.

Forward Max Wright returns for a third stint at Galabank whist 18-year-old midfielder Kyle Fleming joins on loan from Championship side Dundee.

Annan host Hamilton Accies and Stranraer next week and both games are available to be live-streamed.

 

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