Newark FC begin FA Cup run this evening (Tuesday, September 1) in extra preliminary tie against Deeping Rangers at Lowfields
Up to 300 fans will be able to watch Newark FC’s first FA Cup game in more than 50 years.
The return of supporters to non-league venues follows guidance from the government and the FA, which set out an attendance plan for each step of English football below the National League North and South (step two).
The first stage, which limited supporters to less than 15% of ground capacity, began on August 22.
Stage two jumps to 30% of ground capacity and began on August 31 — ahead of Newark’s FA Cup clash, which takes place at Lowfields tonight (Tuesday, September 1).
Step five, the level which Newark plays, has a guideline capacity of 1,000 according to the FA, and so was restricted to a capacity of 150 for stage one, and 300 for stage two.
Gary Clarke, chairman of Newark, said while he is disappointed only 300 fans can watch Newark’s season opener, he is grateful to welcome supporters back through the Lowfields gate.
“Of course we are a little bit disappointed,” said Clarke.
“Our capacity is around 1,300 and, for ourselves, we feel they have set the attendance figures a little low.
“In reality, 50% would have been ideal, but given where we are at the moment, and what is happening in the country, we have to be thankful that we are allowed to let fans in.
“The disappointing thing is we know that from big games in the past we have had easily 400-plus — and even 600-plus.
“So, unfortunately there will be people who won’t be able to watch the game.”
Newark will host Deeping Rangers, of the United Counties League, in the extra preliminary round tonight.
Clarke said the club would do its best to ensure those who have been attending games regularly over the past two seasons would get first dibs on tickets.
He also shared his excitement after a pre-season of behind-closed-doors matches.
“We played Spalding United at home three weeks ago and it was a ghost town. It was horrible,” said Clarke.
“We are used to having people chanting, singing, banging the drum and creating a fantastic atmosphere.
“And everybody here is looking forward to welcoming the people in to do exactly that again.”
Hand sanitiser stations and a track and trace system will be in place on re-opening.