THE 1874 COLUMN - By Matt Waters

FOOTBALL'S return has shown us all what’s great about non-league.

Whether it’s been volunteers making sure grounds are ‘Covid secure,’ or fans adhering to the new guidance, everyone has played a key role in ensuring football’s safe restart.

I caught up with our chairman Steve Richardson who paid tribute to the efforts.

“Our volunteers have been brilliant. They’ve taken on board a new set of rules and are working in a much different way than they would have normally," he said.

"Some of our volunteers have changed roles because their old ones are simply no longer applicable."

He added: “Our supporters have been excellent as well. They’re adhering to social distancing rules and are complying with our own measure such as the staggered exit of the ground and mask wearing.”

“We’re doing what we can to make sure our environment is safe for all.”

When speaking to Steve it was clear to see his passion for having fans back at games.

“Football at our level is not feasible without fans," he said.

"There is simply no way clubs can survive without them. What we’ve tried to do is bring fans back in the safest possible way.

“When fans move around the ground, they will wear a face mask, that can be relaxed slightly once they are in their family bubble or socially distanced. Everybody has been temperature checked and we’re learning as we go.

“Our fans are so important and we are doing what we can to make sure our fans can watch 1874 this season.”

Like for every football club, coronavirus has caused some form of financial implication for 1874. However, Steve said it has only been a “limited” impact for 1874.

“The financial impact has been limited at the moment," he said.

"Naturally attendances have been impacted for home and away supporters. We expect that to be the case for longer now we are in these tiered systems.

“Attendances being low hits the bottom line, it’s our only source of income. However, our priority is that those supporters who do come enjoy the experience we offer.”

With the majority of clubs in the North West Counties being affected by the tier system, Steve added if the football season should be suspended at any point, 1874 would come out the other side ok.

“We manage costs very carefully, there are certain expenses we have to keep paying and it’s difficult for lots of clubs at this level. Its’s the uncertainty of what is going to happen next," he said.

“However, what we do know is that if we go into another lockdown or the season gets suspended, we will be ok and we’ll come out of it the other side.”