A League Two club have been slammed by their own fans as an update emerges over ground safety ahead of their season opener.
It’s an exciting time of year with the new campaign set to get going again, and this time, it’s even more anticipated with fans allowed back in the stands.
However, whilst the thousands are able to go through the turnstiles at various grounds up and down the country at the weekend onward, there is one club that may have to turn supporters away.
An expert on safety at football stadia reckons that the current situation which has played out at Harrogate Town could damage the reputation of the club.
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This is because fans right now frustrated over being unable to buy tickets to the season opener on Saturday due to safety concerns at the EnviroVent Stadium.
With less than four days until kick-off, frustrated Sulphurites fans have been left in the dark about whether they can get back to the ground for their League Two opener on Saturday afternoon against Rochdale.
It’s the same for Rochdale supporters who have taken to social media to voice their anger at Harrogate Town with even claiming they’ve bought train tickets and booked hotels for the fixture.
It may be that fans will have to wait to watch future league and cup matches for a little while yet and instead players will no doubt again have to end up playing in front of an empty ground.
This of course would be a major embarrassment for the Wetherby Road outfit who will want the added boost of their own support to help them get some points on the board for what will be their second ever season in the English Football League.
North Yorkshire County Council have currently banned supporters from attending a friendly against Sunderland on the 24th of July after identifying 17 “unacceptable risks” for fan safety at the club’s EnviroVent Stadium.
They encountered many problems included that of the CCTV system, the ground’s control room and stewarding.
It’s unclear if these issues can be overcome in time for Saturday’s kick-off and no one knows if the season opener will have fans or not.
Martin O’Hara, national council member for the Football Supporters’ Association and chair of the South Yorkshire Police Independent Advisory Group that is responsible for ground safety, told the Stray Ferret media outlet that if NYCC bans fans from attending it would damage the reputation of the club.
He said: “It is very unusual that a club wouldn’t be allowed to open it’s gates at the start of the season.”
Mr O’Hara went on to say there are “generally workarounds” for safety problems at grounds but it remains to be seen if expensive and complex systems such as CCTV can be dealt with in time for the big kick off.
He also stated that the uncertainty raises questions about the status of the hundreds of season tickets that have been sold, with fans no doubt will be wanting their money back for the game they will suddenly be made not to attend.
Mr O’Hara added: “I would expect there to be a lot going on behind the scenes with the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) at the council, the local police and the club”.
The football grounds have safety standards set by the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as most of you will know following the pandemic.
Within this, there is in a document called “The Green Guide” that has been created by regulator the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA).
The SGSA issues guidance to council SAGs and has its own inspectors who work with them. Before each fixture, the local authority issues a safety certificate and enforces the safety standards.
Harrogate Town have issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon which reads: “The club are continuing to work with the Safety Advisory Group and Sports Ground Safety Authority to ensure supporters are able to attend Saturday’s EFL opener against Rochdale. As soon as any further information is available it will be communicated.”
As mentioned, the League Two club have been slammed by fans of their own as well as Rochdale’s as an update emerges over ground safety…
@peckypexter: Been looking forward to Dales first game for ages! As previously said not good enough at all! Get it sorted and don’t forget away fans too! ⚽️💙
@AllDalelong: Simply not good enough for an EFL club. Couldn’t organise a piss up in brewery. All fans should now boycott away games at this tin pot club and starve them of income all season long.
@Feeneyx17: Thankyou that wasn’t hard to just keep us in the known 🙄
@bjwannabe27: Heavy fine and points deduction now @EFL Game must be behind closed doors if away fans can’t go. Why should @officiallydale be put at a disadvantage due to the incompetence of @HarrogateTown. Every single dale fan given a free ifollow pass as minimum also.
@Ben_m_1234: TIN POT FC! You’ve had over 16 months to sort it and you still aren’t ready with 4 days to go
🤦🏻♂️ Piss Poor from you lot!
@JackAshmann: Useless by the sounds of it. Feel sorry for the Rochdale fans wanting to watch there first league game in over 18 months.
@RochdaleFan: It’s not like you have had over 18 months to make sure your stadium is safe is it. Not good enough.
@dimas_rules: What are you going to do about this @EFL?
@J_Schofield4: Non league
@Kieran_Stevo7: Absolute disgrace
@dom_33: You truly are the most tinpot club to have ever been in the efl lads
@dimas_rules: That says supporters. No mention of away supporters at all. Would think it is now too late logistically given it will likely be a sell out for Dale given we would have got around 800 tickets
@PeteOwen14: Well its an update at least. Dale fans its so close to the game it will never pass the checks, and if it does the logistics and time to prepare for the day would be tight. We wont be going. We’ll watch the entire EFL enjoy fans back whilst we have to watch Soccer fucking Saturday
@ScottWarringto6: Still waiting on Sunderland game refund why u ignoring me u Carnt afford to refund me or summit???????
@SeanGleeson7: Club is a fucking shambles
@SGC501: Typical Harrogate 😂😂😂
@durhamchris1983: You’ve had 18 months…
@CjecSc: This is pathetic 18 months to get your house in order! I was delighted for Harrogate when they got promoted, but the EFL now need to nail them for their incompetence
@_iainmurray: FINALLY AN UPDATE… oh wait they’re just telling us they still don’t have a fucking clue. No worries lads you’ve only had a year. Tinpot.
@Paul_not_ecfc: Not looking good, especially if the game gets swapped to Spotland.
@Mr_Rochdale18: Should be fined @EFL
@joembeebam: It’s too late to distribute tickets now anyway. Don’t think pay on the day is allowed due to covid
@Forbesie10: They’ve only had 18 months…
@rochdalescouser: Not being funny but you’ve had a long time to get this sorted. And now we are ready to go for the first time in 18 months you still aren’t ready. Not good enough.
@douggyhufc: Had long enough
@adamgreenwood9: You couldn’t run a bath you lot piss poor
@kieronbab15: Not fucking good enough you’ve have 19 months to get your ground sorted should be fined
@LeverGav: To all #htafc fans, dont let our fans tweets put you off us. We are a great bunch were just so desperate to get a taste of football at a stadium and a new one at that. We’re just dissapointed the safety checks are only being done now. It’s not common timings for the efl season
@AndyRAFC69: Absolute joke. It needs to played behind closed doors if Dale fans can’t attend. Why should Harrogate be given an unfair advantage? 😡
— Dan Bell (@TheDB30) August 3, 2021