Omicron: Flint Town United “massively disappointed” as club counts cost of Welsh government spectator ban from Boxing Day
Sporting events in Wales will be played behind closed doors from Boxing Day in a bid to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething announced the new measures for indoor and outdoor sporting events at midnight stating “the latest figures showed a further steep rise in the number of confirmed cases of the fast-moving variant”.
The move means fans will not be allowed into Cae y Castell to watch Flint Town United’s local derby match against Connah’s Quay Nomads on December 26th.
When the two teams met in Flint in October over 1,100 spectators attended the game, another bumper crowd was again expected on Boxing Day.
Flint will miss out on a “large amount of revenue” not only from gate receipts but also food and drink as a result of the new restriction, though a support fund has also been announced by the Welsh government.
The teams will play the reverse fixture at the Deeside Stadium in Connah’s Quay on News Year Day meaning Nomads will also miss out on a large chunk of revenue.
A spokesperson for Flint Town United said: “As a club we are obviously massively disappointed our much anticipated local derby against Connah’s Quay Nomads will now be played behind closed doors, as we will miss out on a large amount of revenue and it will deprive the fans of the return of a traditional Boxing Day fixture.”
“However, we do appreciate that public health and safety must come first, and if these measures are deemed necessary in light of the latest scientific evidence to curb the spread of the Omicron variant then of course we support the decision.”
Delyn MP Rob Roberts said the decision to move sport behind closed is a “ridiculous measure for outdoor events when the evidence shows that despite case numbers being high, serious illness, hospitalisations and deaths are not, showing that either the vaccinations are successfully keeping symptoms minor or that the new variant isn’t so aggressive in its severity.”
He said: “Demolishing further the income of smaller clubs like Flint Town United is another needless ‘just in case’ measure that should be avoided.”
“It’s not just losing out on a thousand ticket sales, but most of those fans would buy at least one drink and something to eat at the game as well, not to mention the knock-on business to local shops.” He said.
The Welsh government said a £3m Spectator Sports Fund will be available to support clubs and sporting venues affected by the new measures.
The Economy Minister said: “Sporting events over the Christmas period are one of the big highlights of the year. Unfortunately, the new omicron variant is a significant development in the pandemic and could cause a large number of infections.
“We need to do everything we can to protect people’s health and control the spread of this awful virus.
“Throughout the pandemic we have followed scientific and public health advice to keep people safe. The advice is clear – we need to act now in response to the threat of omicron. We are giving people as much notice of these decisions as we can.
“Crowds will come back as soon as possible. We want everyone to be here to enjoy their favourite sports.”
Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com