FOOTBALL fans are confused by restrictions allowing them to watch games indoors – but not in the open space of a stadium.
Although the Welsh Government is trialling live crowds at some sporting events, people will be unable to attend Jenner Park tomorrow (Saturday, May 22) to watch Barry Town United v Caernarfon Town in the JD Cymru Premier Playoff Semi-Final.
Football fans are welcome to watch the match in Barry Town United AFC Clubhouse, just metres away from Jenner Park stadium which can seat up to 2,500 people, but cannot enjoy the game in the outdoor space.
Before the coronavirus pandemic Nick Grant, who has supported Barry Town United for most of his life, would frequently travel from his home in Merthyr Tydfil to Barry’s Jenner Park to watch the footie.
But he will be watching the JD Cymru Premier Playoff Semi-Final from his home.
Mr Grant said: “I considered going to Barry clubhouse for the game, but didn’t want to risk spending time and money travelling there when I may not be able to get in [depending on crowd size].
“It would be a waste; I’ll be watching from home with a few beers and less people around.
“I don’t see why we can’t watch on the ground, considering Welsh Government adverts are always saying about being outside.
“People being in an enclosed space is a bigger risk; it’s easier to ensure social distancing on the grounds. I don’t understand why certain games are to be tested but we can’t use the grounds.
“I know they won’t change the rules now [before tomorrow’s match] but hopefully later we can all come together later.”
Barry Town United FC manager, Gavin Chesterfield, added: “It is a kick in the teeth for Barry Town United FC and all those involved in the Cymru Premier League.
“Like others across the league, our hard-working volunteers and supporters have not watched a live game in a long time. Allowing supporters to attend, would be a huge boost and a provide a small thank you to all.”
Barry Town United’s Supporters Liaison Officer, Ian Johnson, said that fans were very disappointed but would be supporting the team in whatever way they can.
Mr Johnson said: “A stewarded, outdoors event is surely one of the most safe forms of entertainment that can be held right now. Fans are naturally disappointed that they can’t be there.
“What makes no sense to fans, though, is that they can watch the game live on television indoors in the clubhouse or other pubs around Barry, but not in the open air in the ground.”
Mr Johnson continued: “We understand the public health and safety commitments involved in putting on matches and have made it clear that we can safely host limited capacity of up to 20 per cent at Jenner Park, around 400-450 fans.
“Fans also think it’s unfair that Barry Town and Penybont are playing their European play-off matches behind closed doors when other clubs, such as Swansea City and Newport County, are playing their games in front of a live audience. There’s no level playing field.
“This is an important game for us, and fans will be supporting the team from far and wide on S4C’s Sgorio, and hopefully we can reach next week’s final and qualify for Europe.”
Earlier this month, on May 12, local MP Alun Cairns wrote to First Minister Mark Drakeford asking him to consider allowing smaller sporting activities and cultural initiatives to resume (with safety measures in place).
Part of Mr Cairns’ letter states: “Barry Town United has worked hard to adhere to social distancing rules and ultimately feel that they’ve been ignored.
“Allowing smaller scale events to be hosted would also provide good feedback going forward to similar sized outdoor venues across Wales. They would also offer a key financial lifeline after the most difficult of periods.”