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Interviews

Town leading the way with pilot fixture

18 September 2020

Brian Caldwell provides an insight into Town's pilot fixture with Northampton Town.

Town's first home game of the Sky Bet League One campaign has been given the green light to host a pilot event allowing 1000 fans to attend the game against Northampton Town.

Town's CEO, Brian Caldwell, was delighted with the news and is looking forward to welcoming a small number of Salop fans back to the Montgomery Waters Meadow for our fixture with Northampton Town.

On the fans being allowed back:

“It’s absolutely fantastic. We have been trying to do a pilot, and have been pushing from day one to try and get a pilot to open all four stands. When you look at it now, there are only seven clubs in the country who are doing a pilot - we are one of them.

“We decided, we are going to take the challenge on, despite the difficulties and the short time scale to get everything right, but I do feel that we are in a good position with 24 acres around the stadium.

“All the team have worked really, really hard to make sure everything is in place for the one thousand. We obviously feel sorry for the 1700 or so that haven’t been able to get a ticket and we apologise to them. Obviously this is all outside of our control.

“We could only get 1000 in but the good news would be that: if we can run this pilot successfully at the weekend, hopefully for the next home league game against Gillingham, we could potentially open all four stands and get all of our season ticket holders in.”

On the application process:

“On Tuesday morning at half 11, we got an email from the EFL asking for any clubs that wanted to apply for consideration of a pilot. Anybody who did want to apply had to apply by two o’clock, so we had two-and-a-half hours. We needed permission from our local safety advisory group, a group made up of the Sports Ground Safety Authority, Shropshire Council, the police, fire, and ambulance. I’ve got to be grateful to all of the groups as they acted quickly to support our application.

“We met the two o’clock deadline on Tuesday as requested, and then unfortunately there was a wait but in the meantime, we started putting plans in place on the basis that we were going to be successful with the pilot.

"We kept pushing the EFL to see if they had an answer from the government and to our delight, we got the nod on Wednesday around 1 o’clock. I can understand why many clubs pulled out because it is tight and there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make sure that it all works ok. We needed to make sure we got it working because it’s for the good of football in the long run.

“We would rather have 1000 of our own supporters in on Saturday working well under safe measures than having none - the last thing we wanted was a behind closed doors game."

On the stadium safety measures:

“Obviously a lot has changed since season ticket holders were last here. We are only opening the West Stand and there are a lot of different rules and regulations that we must adhere to. We also need that support from our own fan base as well, to ensure that this pilot works well.”


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