Chichester City boss: You can't restart league without some fans
Chichester City have lined up a string of friendlies to keep the players – and turnstiles – ticking over while there is no Isthmian League action.
They are disappointed they cannot return to their Isthmian south east campaign as soon as they had hoped, but understand why fixtures remain on hold.
But Miles Rutherford’s team are set to play Worthing, Horsham, Winchester City and Bognor in friendlies to keep the players as sharp as possible – and keep some income coming their way.
As revealed at chichester.co.uk at the end of last week, a majority of clubs across the Isthmian, Southern and Northern leagues voted to keep their league seasons ‘paused’ becaue of complications caused by the government’s new tiered lockdown rules.
The Isthmian League has numerous clubs in Kent, which is in tier three – and those sides are not allowed to admit any fans.
Even clubs in tier two have restrictions on opening facilities such as bars and clubhouses.
Rutherford told the Observer: “I can see both sides of the argument over whether we should be restarting but the decision that’s been arrived at is understandable.
“It would have been unfair to start again without the Kent teams allowed to let fans in – and that in my view is more because of the finances than the football.
“We’d have loved to start playing again but you can’t have some clubs gaining and others not.
“Non-league football is all about the fans and you can’t ignore that.”
City will host Isthmian premier leaders Worthing on Saturday and visit Horsham, also from the division above, on Tuesday. They are due to entertain Winchester City on Saturday week and hope to arrange a friendly tussle with Bognor over the festive period.
Rutherford said the matches would help keep the squad and fans’ spirits up – but he added that he hoped the league lockdown did not last too much longer.
“I’d hope we can restart in January because the fixtures are going to pile up.
“We’ll keep on training on Thursday nights and trying to play at least one game a week and hopefully we’ll be ready for when the programme starts up again.”