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Bury MP calls on FA to rethink the way they are limiting crowds

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The MP representing phoenix club Bury AFC is urging the Football Association to reconsider current guidance on the return of fans as a limited number of lucky ones are allowed back.

James Daly, the Conservative MP for Bury North, wrote to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport this weekend to call for the ground-grading criteria currently being used to calculate numbers to be more carefully considered.

Supporters like those pictured at FC United versus Barrow, returned in small numbers at friendlies on Saturday after the success of the #LetFansIn campaign, launched by cash-strapped clubs and football-starved fans two weeks ago.

Following last week’s front page headlines in The Non-League Paper, nearly 40 MPs led by former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch threw their weight behind calls for a special exemption to be made for Non-League, up to and including the National League.

But under the current FA guidance, only clubs at Step 3 and below can admit an initial 15 per cent capacity of the ground-grading capacity of the tier they play at for preseason, increasing to 30 percent for the start of the competitive campaign. As a result, no matter how large each stadium is, the crowd is calculated on the tier.

In his letter to Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston, Daly attacked the current guidelines for unfairly penalising hundreds of his constituents, including Shakers fans who’ve set up phoenix club Bury AFC.

Daly wrote: “This system would lead to the bizarre situation where two teams who play their home games at the same stadium, such as Radcliffe FC and Bury AFC, being allowed different crowd capacities due to league status.

“In practice, this would mean whilst Radcliffe FC would be allowed to play their home league games at the Neuven Stadium in front of 600 fans, Bury AFC, also playing at the Neuven Stadium, would only be permitted a home attendance of 300 fans.

“You will know from our many conversations about football in Bury that the fans here have endured much over the last 12 months and unless the current guidance is rectified it will unfairly penalise hundreds of my constituents.”


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The MP, who sent a copy of his letter to The NLP, added: “I am certain that this new obstacle is easily overcome, by allowing clubs to use the capacity of their individual stadiums, [it will] ensure as many loyal fans as possible are able to watch the match live, in-person; supporting their home team.”

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Images courtesy of The Non-League Paper & Mark Lee/FCUM

This article was brought to you by The Non-League Paper, the UK's best-selling football title on the newsstand, on-sale every Sunday.
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