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Peterborough chairman MacAnthony calls on EFL chiefs to get fans back into grounds for first game of the season

DARRAGH MACANTHONY wants football fans back inside grounds for the START of the season.

The Peterborough chairman has become frustrated by the government which looks set to wait until October to allow stadiums to partially reopen.

Non-League fans from the seventh-tier of English football will be allowed back today while some test events in the Premier League and EFL will be held next month. In Scotland, fans could be back on September 14.

But England’s clubs – including League One side Posh – stand to lose a fortune by having the first few matches behind closed doors as the EFL campaign begins on September 12.

MacAnthony, 44, said: “It was great to get live football back on TV.

“Now it is absolutely vital we get supporters back inside grounds in the Premier League and EFL. Football without fans is terrible.

“But we should not be waiting for some time in October. This is ridiculous.

“The Government and football authorities should be making sure fans are on our terraces for the start of the season on September 12. I don’t know what we are waiting for.

“It is good news that from today, some non-League clubs can have fans back for friendlies.

“Although we desperately need the money, at least we get some TV cash. Non-League football clubs at that level get absolutely nothing.

“If people are sensible going out to shops and restaurants, they will be sensible at football grounds. In the end, they realised there was no need for Premier League games to be played at neutral grounds. We have to trust football fans.

“Do I want to go to our ground for the first few games and see loads of Posh fans over 60? Of course I don’t. They should be at home protecting themselves.

“But do I want to see other fans who are being careful and wearing masks? Of course I do. We are all quite far down the line with Covid and we know how to behave.

“Football is a massive part of the economy. With football fans, the British Government would lose a lot of money as lots of people would lose their jobs. So I don’t know what we are waiting for.

We need to be told to do this now because clubs need two or three weeks to organise and prepare.

“For the start of the season, we should be able to use between 30 and 40 per cent of our capacities.

“If you can have bowling alleys open now, we should have football stadiums open. It is not as though we have any indoor football grounds.

“At Peterborough our capacity is 15,000. So with season ticket holders and a few casual ticket fans, we could get 4,000 inside self-distancing.”

Yet MacAnthony, whose side were cruelly denied a play-off place last season, says it is important they are given a date as soon as possible.

The Irish businessman said: “We need to be told to do this now because clubs need two or three weeks to organise and prepare. Don’ just drop this on us at the last minute. Don’t expect we can sort all this out in 24 hours.

“We need to get portable toilets for outside the ground. We need to know how many stewards we will need.”

MacAnthony is also hoping Posh can heal the wounds of last season as they were sixth when the season was suspended – but Wycombe took their place on points per game and ended up getting promoted.

He added: “Our aim is to do our best to win promotion and repay all our loyal fans who now more than ever have supported us through this horrible pandemic.”

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