Sutton ‘lost £200,000 because of lockdown’
The regulars will find Sutton United’s Gander Green Lane ground looking very different when they turn up for the first home game of the National League season in October.
There will be one-way systems, no-go areas and a host of hand-sanitising stations. In the main stand, only one in eight of the 750 seats will be available and any refreshment outlets allowed to open will be cashless. Admission will be bought in advance online and everywhere will have signage indicating where spectators can – and cannot – go. An army of volunteers has worked on the club’s ground becoming Covid compliant.
“We had to appoint a Covid
operations officer,” says Adrian Barry, the National League club’s vice-chairman. “We have spent an enormous amount of time and energy getting the place up to speed. But at least we have got football back again.”
Sutton’s last match before lockdown was a 1-1 draw with Hartlepool on March 14. Since then, the place has been closed.
The 3G pitch, normally in use seven days a week, was not available for hire. The club’s bars were shut, the hospitality suites no longer able to host functions, and the community programme, involving two women’s sides, three disability and 20 junior teams and an over-50s walking football squad, put into abeyance.
“We estimate the financial hole over the time since lockdown began to be around £200,000,” Barry says. “Given our playing budget is £300,000 a season, that is quite an amount.”
Barry is hoping that close to the usual home crowd of 1,300 might be able to attend, because without them, he suggests, the existence of the club will be endangered.
“Let’s not beat about the bush here, the return of supporters is critical,” Barry says. “We have established what we believe is an approach that will allow us to go forward. But that is entirely dependent on fans coming in.
“Until we can get back fully to that position, it is going to be tough, tough, tough.”
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