Leyton Orient happy to lose money and keep bars closed if to means getting fans back through turnstiles
Leyton Orient chief executive Danny Macklin says the football club is happy to lose money in order to get fans back into their stadium.
Supporters will be allowed to return to live sport in tier 1 and 2 areas when lockdown ends next week, but the restricted numbers mean clubs are unlikely to cover their costs.
That is especially true of fourth-tier side Leyton Orient, who will only have room to admit season ticket holders and therefore won’t generate any additional gate receipts.
“For these season card holders, they’ve paid their money and they now deserve to see some live football,” Macklin told City A.M.
“The games will cost us money but it’s a price we pay because we want to get our season card holders back in.
“This is step one. If we can make a success of this individually and as a group of [League Two] clubs, hopefully the next stage will be to get 4,000 fans back and then 6,000.
“By then hopefully we’ll all have vaccines and we can enjoy a day when we’re not having to worry about a thing called social distancing.”
Provided London is not placed in tier 3, Leyton Orient expect the Papa John’s Trophy fixture against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday 8 December to be their first at the Breyer Group Stadium with a crowd since March.
Why pints and pies may have to wait
Macklin says the priority will be admitting as many supporters safely as possible, even if that might mean keeping bars and food stalls closed for now.
“If you’ve got people gathering around to get a nice burger or a nice pint, that’s going to reduce the number of people you get in the stadium,” he added.
“Our priority is getting as many people in as the rules allow, safely, and then further down the line hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy a nice pint or a nice pie.
“We’re basically going to have to put every single game to our season card holders as a ballot.
“It’s going to be quite complicated to make sure we have people in their social bubbles, we can get in as many people as the rules allow, and that above all else the safety of our spectators and staff is paramount.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson is due to announce the allocation of tiers on Thursday, six days before England’s lockdown lifts on 2 December.