Playing behind closed doors at Wembley is 'unbelievable shame' for Harrogate Town
Harrogate Town’s managing director has said playing behind closed doors at Wembley on Monday is an ‘unbelievable shame’ that the club is ‘desperately sad’ about.
Fans missed out on the club’s first trip to Wembley last year and are set to miss out once again next week when the FA Trophy final is played without any spectators.
The FA had hoped to play it after a limited number of fans were allowed back into the stadium on May 17 but this has not been possible.
A petition against the decision has received more than 1,300 signatures and has been supported by Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, who even raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions, but no further action has been taken.
Managing director at Harrogate Town, Garry Plant, told the Harrogate Advertiser: “I just can’t believe we are going to be playing behind closed doors for the second time.
“It is so unfortunate and such an unbelievable shame.
“Of course we understand why it has to happen but we are so upset and we know our fans are absolutely gutted.”
The club’s media team will be on hand at the game so fans don’t have to miss out on content - but they will only be able to access this on Youtube as the match coincides with a four-day social media blackout in a show of solidarity against racism.
Garry added: “We will never get this opportunity back but we have to press the club on and, hopefully, one day we will be able to do it again.”
The team has been working on a plan for the return of spectators in August and is preparing for all scenarios based on Covid rules.
A test event in December was a huge success and the Sports Ground Safety Authority has adopted Harrogate Town’s plan as its best practice. “Our fans and staff are doing a cracking job at supporting us and we want to be able to do the same for them as soon as they can return,” Garry said.
Jordan Ford, from the Harrogate Town Supporters Club, added: "It's very frustrating and disappointing that we won't be able to go to Wembley but we have to focus on the fact this is such a good opportunity for the players.
"This is a great achievement, it's like the FA Cup for smaller, non-league clubs, and lots of clubs would love to be in our position.
"At least it will be shown on TV and the beer gardens are open now so we have to just make the most of it - it still beats watching it alone at home!"
Cedar Court Hotel in Harogate is offering a cup final package at its tipi marquee on Bank Holiday Monday.
The match will be broadcast live from 4.30pm via BT Sport App, BT TV, the Sky Digital Satellite Platform and Virgin Media channel 100.