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The FA announce 15% capacity rule, rising to 30%, as clubs from step three prepare to welcome back supporters

A limited number of fans will be allowed back into most non-league grounds from Saturday - provided certain conditions are met.

Last night the government said clubs at step three (Isthmian League) and below could welcome supporters back to stadiums.

Hythe Town's Reachfields home Picture: Andy Jones
Hythe Town's Reachfields home Picture: Andy Jones

Details of how that will work have emerged with the FA announcing a “phased and limited” return of spectators who will be subject to social distancing.

All clubs must have a dedicated Covid-19 officer, complete and publish risk assessments and action plans and arrange support for track and trace efforts before crowds are allowed to return.

Once that’s completed, under stage one of the phased return, attendances must not exceed 15% of the minimum ground grading capacity until August 31, when the the figure rises to 30% under stage two.

At Isthmian Premier level that means a maximum crowd of 300 (rising to 600), in Isthmian South it’s 200 (rising to 400), and in Southern Counties East Premier and Division 1 it’s 150 rising to 300.

Clubs must have held a match at stage one in order to progress to stage two.

In a letter to clubs, Laurence Jones, head of the National League System (NLS), said: “You will note that the decision was taken not to permit spectators until Saturday, 22 August.

"Whilst we are in no doubt that clubs will seek the return of spectators at the earliest opportunity, this affords clubs an acceptable window in order to make any modifications to their risk assessment based on a spectator presence.

"If clubs feels that they require more time beyond this coming Saturday in order to update these documents before admitting spectators, that is in the gift of each club.

“League and clubs of the NLS have faced significant challenges in the past but we are in no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has and will continue to present many challenges throughout the 20/21 season.

"Now is a time where the NLS leagues and clubs will need to support each other and we would ask that everyone pulls together between now and the end of May in order that we can complete the 2020/21 season."

Read more: The latest sports news in Kent

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