Nottingham Forest will play their first match in front of fans for over eight months on Saturday as supporters return to watch the Championship game at Reading.
Only 2,000 supporters can attend the match with a limited number of tickets given to priority season ticket holders of Reading FC, only those living in tier two or lower regions can attend and no away supporters will be allowed to watch the game, but some say it’s at least a step in the right direction, others concerned that the limited numbers and confusion through government restriction based on location means that some clubs and some supporters have preferential treatment whilst others, simply have to lump it based on their geography.
Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, like most of the East Midlands is in tier 3 and that is not expected to change until at least the New Year so attending matches at elite level as well as non-league levels 3-6 will not be permitted if you live in the area, but supporters of grass roots teams below step seven of the national pyramid can attend matches, although many leagues with clubs located within the county have already made plans to postpone matters until a clearer outlook with many teams left pinching their pockets following covid-19.
The Northern Counties East League which includes two Notts based clubs in AFC Mansfield and Retford FC, have already postponed their campaign until January, whilst the Northern Premier League, with teams from Nottinghamshire including Basford United, Carlton Town and Worksop Town, are currently voting to see what happens next.
The biggest problem in football, the varied tiers imposed by the government means that some sides in these leagues can play with fans in attendance (thus generate some kind of income through gate receipts) whilst others cannot.
The East Midlands Counties League which has all its teams currently in tier 3, has suspended the restart of its season until December 19th (pending a review on December 16th) but has stated that ‘any’ clubs agreeing to play behind closed doors until then, can do so if they wish.
But one winner in all this confusion might be the Notts Senior League which has a near full fixture programme for the weekend ahead. Level 11 on the pyramid the strictly ‘grassroots’ competition is below the cut off list for ‘restriction’ on supporters so any fans wanting to get their football fix can do so, largely without cost, by taking in a good old fashioned hell for leather local derby whilst standing behind the touchline ropes at your nearest recreation ground.
With many ‘higher level’ players signed on with NSL clubs under ‘dual registration’ you’ll still get to see a good standard of non-league football with league leaders Bingham Town currently seven wins from seven taking on Attenborough this Saturday the pick of the bunch.
For more details on fixtures click here and remember if you do go to a game this weekend, stay safe as the healthier we stay, the sooner we can all come out of this mess.
*Main image @shekicksdotnet fans will return for Saturday’s trip to Reading.