Cobblers, Saints and Northants join forces in bid to allow supporters back into sporting events

The Cobblers, Saints and Northants have joined forces to state the case to the Government for the safe return of spectators to elite sporting events.

Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 12:36 pm
The Cobblers have played all of their matches this season behind closed doors

Representatives of the town's three professional clubs met with Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer via a viedo conference call on Friday.

A joint statement issued by the clubs on Wednesday lunchtime said they had explained to Lewer the challenges facing the sports industry in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Elite sport continues to be played behind closed doors without spectators in line with Government policy.

No fans have been allowed into Franklin's Gardens since March

The Cobblers are continuing to play matches behind closed doors at the PTS Academy Stadium, the Saints had to finish the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership campaign without supporters inside Franklin's Gardens, and in August and September Northants played out first-class and Vitality Blast T20 matches at a deserted County Ground.

The joint statement said 'the issue of the safe return of supporters to stadiums was discussed at length, with the clubs explaining the detailed protocols that have been put in place.

'The clubs were grateful to Mr Lewer for his time and all parties have agreed to remain in regular communication as the clubs work towards a return to stadiums for spectators'.

“At this time of shared challenge, it is really positive for us to be working together with the Cobblers and the cricket club,” said Northampton Saints chief executive Mark Darbon.

Northants played out the 2020 season behind closed doors at the County Ground

“All three clubs have a special place in the heart of the Town; Saints, the Cobblers and the Steelbacks all benefit from the fervent and unwavering support of our community.

“In return, the work done within the community by the clubs is wide ranging and impactful, creating strong sporting, social and educational legacies across Northamptonshire and beyond.

“The implications of being able to continue this are unthinkable, so we are doing everything in our power to secure the long-term future of the clubs in spite of the current industry landscape.”

Northampton Town chief executive, James Whiting said: “There are so many benefits to allowing spectators back into sports stadiums, and as clubs we are working very hard to make this happen as soon as possible.

“All three sports clubs in Northampton are of the opinion that this can be done safely as there are carefully considered, detailed plans that have been approved by our Safety Advisory Group in place.

“We have seen successful pilot events staged at various stadiums up and down the country and we believe that attending outdoor sports stadiums under these conditions is far safer than some of the activities that are currently allowed.

“This is a really important time for the three clubs to show a unified approach to Government for the good of Northamptonshire.”

Chief executive of Northants CCC, Ray Payne, said: "The sporting clubs of Northampton have worked together in the past, in much more settled times, it seems absolutely fitting in these times, we do so more than ever.

"When individuals are stricter in movement and social interaction, sport has a big part to play in the wellbeing and mental health for all, we have a part to play in providing that within the community.

"We will work with government and local authorities to find safe ways that sports fans can enjoy sport and participating in sport in the town.”