Colchester United owner and Chairman Robbie Cowling has issued the following statement:
So it looks like Boris finally managed to read my letter and at long last his Government has finally worked out that watching a football match at the open aired JobServe Community Stadium is just as safe as sitting in a confined aeroplane with 300 other passengers, eating inside a restaurant and drinking inside a pub.
We of course, have known all along that it is even safer than all of those things, but we finally heard this week that we are going to have a chance to prove it. My attitude towards the virus and the lockdowns never has been and never will be blasé. In all of my businesses I have taken the steps required to responsibly mitigate the risks of spreading the virus and the football club is no different and our first step towards a full opening will have to be a cautious one.
That will mean being quite restrictive for the first game against Grimsby on December 5th, but I assure you all that we will be working flat out to make that fixture a success and to then get as many more fans as we can safely into our game against Morecambe on December 19th.
We will always of course be restricted by:
1. The tier we are placed in by the Government - The initial rules will allow 4,000 fans into stadiums located in Tier One areas, 2,000 fans into stadiums located in Tier Two areas and no fans into stadiums located in tier three areas.
2. The number of fans we can safely allow into the stadium - We will find out today which tier we have been placed in but seeing as Colchester has one of the lowest infection rates in the country, I’m hopeful that we will be placed in Tier One.
Steve and Hayden have built a good side that is doing very well at home and all that is missing is the fans so we are keen to get as many of you back into games as quickly as we can. But it must be safe and as I have said that will mean taking a cautious first step.
For the game against Grimsby on December 5th, we will only be allowing fans that have purchased a Seasonal Permit to attend. Our processes for handling those ticket holders are all in place and it makes a lot of sense to use that first game back to test out our systems with those fans that will be coming to every game.
As I reported in my statement back in September, the Season Permits were only on sale for a couple of days before the details of the potential second wave was all over the news and sales suddenly halted at 540 purchases. We can certainly cope with a few more than 540 and the Season Permits are still on sale for those of you that were put off the first time around but feel more optimistic about committing to the rest of the season now we are finally opening up again.
The sale of the Season Permits will be taken offline again at 5:30pm on Thursday 3rd December so that we don’t have any last minute purchases for the first fixture or beforehand if we get to 1000 permits sold because we do not want to allow more than 1,000 fans into the first fixture. Either way they will go back on sale on Monday 7th December.
I appreciate that we also have many very loyal supporters who can’t attend every game so don’t need a season permit but are equally desperate to get back to watching live games as soon as we open. I understand that many of you want to be there for the first game back and will be disappointed by this approach. Please be patient and understand just how much work is going to be involved in getting the stadium ready for the first game and just how important it is that the first fixture demonstrates a safe and enjoyable environment for live football. Achieving this is not just important for the fans but also for all of the staff and players too.
Car parking will be available for the game against Grimsby but will need to be purchased online by a Season Permit holder via their dashboard on www.colutickets.com. We currently have no plans to sell seasonal parking tickets for this season.
It is unlikely that the stadium will be fully resourced for the first game back so for that particular game, we will be allowing fans to bring their own non-alcoholic refreshments into the stadium and encouraging them to remain in their seats whilst they consume them.
The Club Shop will be open with strict social distancing measures in place and we will also be opening the shop on specific non-match days during the lead up to Christmas so please don’t attend the stadium on a matchday if you don’t have a ticket because we don’t want to take any steps backward now that we are moving forward.
Hopefully, we’ll hear today or very soon after that we are in Tier One and before too long everyone who wants to attend the matches at the stadium will be able to do so. However, things won’t be completely back to a normal matchday experience for any of us for some time and probably not until next season.
If you do attend the stadium for a match this season whilst we have Covid-19 restrictions in place, please respect and follow the guidelines we have put in place because we know some of them will make the matchday a bit more awkward for all of us. But I assure you there is not one single thing that we are doing that is deliberately designed to be more awkward.
It is currently my understanding that away fans will not be permitted into games for the foreseeable and that iFollow streaming will continue to be available until everything is completely back to normal.
With the recent good news on the vaccines that are going to be available soon, we can finally see a way out of the pandemic. Please remain careful though because the virus is no respecter of Christmas. Even though we are beating it, the virus will be more than happy to take out a few more victims on its way out.
Things have been and still remain very testing but I have to say that Colchester United staff and fans have been superb the whole way through this crisis and it’s during times like these that you realise just what a great club we have and what a real crisis is. Losing to Exeter 6 – 1 this week is really painful but we can recover quickly and use that pain to be better in the very near future. Hopefully bouncing straight back with a win next Tuesday before we welcome some of you back on the following Saturday.
See you soon