The fans of Bedford Town have reacted to the news that games have been postponed during the national lockdown after The Football Association released new guidance last week.
The FA said that all fixtures and training sessions for “non-elite” teams would be suspended until December 2.
Bedford Town F.C. plays in the Southern Football League Division One, just below the threshold for an “elite team”, which means that its matches can’t go ahead.
The club, which relies on matchday revenue to keep afloat, has offered refunds to those who bought tickets for the cancelled games.
The management team at Bedford Town F.C. also said that they had opened a web portal for “supporters who wish to make donations” to help with running costs.
‘There’s a bigger picture’
The new guidance won’t just affect the club’s finances; their strong local fan base will also miss out during what was becoming an exciting season for the Eagles.
“We have had to stop when we have hit a run of form under our new manager and are unbeaten in eight [games], with a strong team”, said Andrew Neal, Bedford Town Supporters Club co-chair.
“We always suspected when the season started there would be another lockdown, so this isn’t unexpected.”
Despite the club’s string of wins, Mr Neal felt the health of the footballing community was more essential than getting games back underway during lockdown.
“It is more important that when we can resume, we see all the same faces back supporting the team,” he said.
“We were lucky that at our level, we were able to go watch games once the new season started, and the club itself was able to implement social distancing policies to allow us to watch the games.
“If we have to miss a few weeks of watching games in order to protect lives, then so be it… It’s a necessity in the bigger picture so all of us can get back to our normal lives.”
Life without team sport “may lead to mental illness rise”
During the first lockdown, the government banned all team sporting events – from multi-million pound Premier League fixtures to Sunday afternoon kickabouts.
This time, certain sporting fixtures have received special dispensation to go ahead, but the new restrictions mean that most team-based activities are banned once again.
People’s lack of access to events like competitive football matches – either as a player, a coach, a youth participant or a spectator – may lead to a rise in mental health and social issues.
Mind, the mental health charity, found that roughly 50 per cent of adult’s and children’s mental health had worsened during the spring and early summer because they couldn’t play sport or exercise freely.
However, the fans and management at Bedford Town have recognised this problem and are taking steps to reach out during this period.
“Both the club itself and the supporters club put out messages saying if anyone is struggling to get in touch,” Mr Neal said.
“None of us would like to think that ‘one of our own’ was in trouble for whatever reason during the lockdown.”