Last weekend saw both our Men’s and Women’s first teams play Pre-Season Friendlies behind closed doors at The Pan. Whilst there were no spectators present, there were a number of volunteers who helped the club manage the events and also provide the necessary help for us to safely host the visiting teams.
As the legislation stands today, we will be allowed to start the Men’s Isthmian Premier League season on Saturday 19th September with fans present. As of yet we do not know the fixtures and so we cannot confirm when the first fixture will be. As our Women’s team play at Step 2 in the Women’s Championship, this is deemed as an Elite level and as such there is still no news when they can welcome fans into games, despite the season due to start in less than two weeks (The Rooks travel to Durham in their first game).
The guidance issued last week by the FA set the maximum capacity from the 1st September for Isthmian League Premier games at 600 people (which includes officials, volunteers and staff) – this is NOT a level that has been set for Lewes specifically, but for clubs who play at Step 3 and irrespective of the capacity of their ground. Whilst our average attendance in the last three seasons has been marginally below this figure (approx.590), the club needs to determine what the capacity should be in line with the current regulations for social distancing and COVID-19 sanitisation. It is highly unlikely we will operate with a capacity as high as 600 for the foreseeable future. We also do not know whether the same criteria will be applied to our Women’s Championship games by the FA.
As there are restrictions on the number of players who can use facilities such as the changing rooms and the dug outs, the middle section of the Main Stand will be unavailable for fan use and be restricted to use by the two teams and visiting officials. Combined with the need to provide social distancing in the seated areas, the available seats within the Main Stand will be reduced dramatically. We are currently working on seating plans that comply with the regulations.
It is highly likely that entry to any first team game at The Pan will be by pre-purchased ticket ONLY. In addition, every ticket holder will have to supply contact details and may be subject to a temperature check before they enter the ground. Face masks will be actively encouraged. The Rook Inn will provide takeaway drinks only whilst there may be restrictions on movement between stands within the ground.
We will announce details of Season Tickets in the coming days and will strongly urge fans to consider this method as it will a) guarantee entry into every First Team game at the Pan (assuming further capacity reductions are not mandated), b) contact details for track and trace will be required only at the time of ticket purchase and c) It will reduce any delays in being able to enter the ground.
We recognise for some a Season Ticket is a big investment especially when many will have been hit by the economic effects of the global pandemic and so we will put in place schemes that will allow the payment for tickets to be spread over a number of months at no additional charge.
There’s a huge amount of work that has been going on behind the scenes from our staff, directors, management and volunteers and without their help and generous donations of time and resources, we would not be in a position at all to be considering the return of fans to The Dripping Pan.