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FANS' ZONE 08/10/2020


Whilst it might have been the late, late show when that ball rolled into the Family Stand goal on Saturday in the 90th+1 minute, the club’s directors, sitting behind, could have been excused for breathing a collective huge sigh of relief. Not just because United had beaten the title favourites, Stockport County, but those months of hard work by everyone at the club had all been worthwhile.

TUST and the Yellow Army salutes all those at the club who have worked tirelessly to welcome competitive football back.

Yes, it’s only the first game and whilst the visitors dominated play for the majority of the match and must have been kicking themselves all the way home that they didn’t win, three points from the opening game are of greater importance than the performance.

The ‘surprise’ arrival of three gifted loan signings on the day underlined the owner’s financial support for the manager and the club’s determination to make this the season United return to the Football League.

However, two late goals at the Silverlake Stadium on Tuesday night from Eastleigh’s on loan striker, Ben House, from Reading, brought the Gulls crashing back to earth.

The absence of fans inside grounds and the work carried out by clubs to make stadiums Covid secure was laid bare in Saturday’s Football Focus when BBC cameras visited Dagenham & Redbridge.  Managing director Steve Thompson explained that whilst there has been no football nor any of their entertainment areas open they’ve taken in around £150,000, whereas in the same period this would normally be £1million.

Amazingly, it was only on Friday evening that the National League confirmed the financial help which could guarantee a start. “ A £10m grant has been secured over three months following negotiations between the league, the FA and the government, “ it announced.

There is potential to expand the support should supporters still not be allowed to return to stadiums. But the next issue is how this money is to be divided up across the three divisions, probably based on average attendances but this may not be straightforward. Every club will have its own business model to satisfy so let’s hope this gets resolved soon.


Saturday was a pretty wet and windy day so actually the Yellow Army were grateful to view the game from the comfort of their own home with the top quality live streaming. A few clubs unfortunately had issues, in particular Dover’s match against Notts County. And on Tuesday Dover’s supporters had more heartache as they once again failed to watch their team in action when Bromley’s streaming hit problems - mind you Dover did lose 4-1.  With United at Bromley on Saturday it may have to be TUFC Radio for commentary.

A TUST survey over the weekend found that every National League club is offering this service. Prices vary from Eastleigh’s £7.99 to Woking’s £12 and Wrexham leaving the fans to choose from three options, £10, £15 or £20 depending on their circumstances. £9.99 was the most popular.

Hopefully, it may be possible to have a table of attendances to see how each club does as the EFL have done. To date the most streamed games are: in the Championship Watford v Luton 12,497, League 1 Sunderland v Peterborough 8,617 and League 2 Bolton v Newport 6,223.


There does appear to be some movement to finding a way for spectators to return as the Government has a ‘crack team’ charged with finding a high-tech solution.  The Tech Innovation Group will feature sport, health and tech experts and as Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden explained, it would look at innovations such as tracking devices to measure social distancing between fans, fluorescent disinfectants to reveal how often surfaces were touched and ways of making travel to and from venues safer.

Who would have thought? Sounds like something from a sci-fi novel!

However, in the last few days it has been announced that the Royal Albert Hall is to be allowed a maximum of 3,000 audience members in December and the O2 as many as 4,700. So why not football in the open air?

On Wednesday this week the #LetFansIn petition, backed by TalkSport, to allow football fans to attend matches at all levels has now collected more than 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a debate in Parliament.

The Government really needs to re-think its policy on spectators attending outdoor events.


This is the time of a new season when pundits put their reputations on the line to predict the champions and their choices for play-off contenders.

Dave Thomas goes for Wrexham (Champions) with Boreham Wood, Maidenhead, Notts County, Stockport, Sutton and Torquay.

The Non-League Paper’s Adam Virgo has Notts County (C) with Boreham Wood, Hartlepool, Solihull, Stockport, Wrexham, Yeovil.

A Dag & Red blogger goes for Boreham Wood (C) with Stockport, Yeovil, Solihull, Notts County, Eastleigh, Bromley.

In the spirit of joining in, this column goes for Torquay (C) with Stockport, Wrexham, Sutton, Boreham Wood, Solihull, FC Halifax.

So now it’s your turn! Send me your title tip to:

As always to the Yellow Army stay safe and keep streaming!


Nick Brodrick, TUST board member and Supporter Liaison Officer, writes a weekly column for the Herald Express under the heading "Fans' Zone". Keep an eye out for next weeks edition in the paper on Wednesday.


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