GROUND safety director Stephen Tate praised Stalybridge Celtic’s army of volunteers for ensuring a safe return for football at Bower Fold on Saturday (Aug 22).
Celtic were a guinea pig hosting a pre-season friendly against West Didsbury and Chorlton on the day fans were admitted back for levels three to six – Northern Premier League and league below in the pyramid.
They had a matter of days to prepare following the Government’s announcement to ensure Bower Fold was compliant with all the guidelines.
Stephen admitted: “There was an enormous amount of work to do to figure out how we got fans into the ground without using turnstiles which were a potential transmission point for the virus.
“We decided to use the main gate with a gazebo to offer protection from the weather and to ensure contact details were obtained for every fan for Track and Trace.”
Track and Trace caused a bottleneck as lengthy queues formed outside the ground.
“It was a learning curve and thinking on our feet, so we sent stewards along the queues to fill in their details as they waited. That was just one thing that happened on the day,” Stephen continued.
Stephen also explained the logistical issue with the changing rooms for the players.
Celtic players were allocated both the home and away dressing rooms with a strict three in, three out policy with the rest of the players waiting on the side of the pitch.
Visiting players were given the sponsors’ lounge which provided extra space which enabled four in, four out at any given time.
Stewards toured the ground before and during the match to ensure social distancing was observed while there were frequent tannoy announcements to remind fans.
“I think the club did itself proud in the way we made it work,” said Stephen.
Celtic were restricted to a maximum of 300 fans – the gate was 276 – but that will rise to 600 from August 31.