Boston United set to play first-ever game at Jakemans Community Stadium, but chairman David Newton left with ‘mixed feelings’

The Jakemans Stadium.The Jakemans Stadium.
The Jakemans Stadium.
Pilgrims supremo frustrated fans can’t be there on special day...

Boston United will begin a new era on Saturday - but chairman David Newton admits he has mixed emotions about the occasion.

The Pilgrims are scheduled to play their first ever match at the Jakemans Community Stadium, when Chorley - fresh from knocking League One Peterborough United out of the FA Cup - are the visitors (KO 3pm).

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For the club, seven years of hard work will finally pay off as the Pilgrims run out of the tunnel at the multi-million-pound venue.

But they will be met by a deafening silence as supporters are still unable to attend.

“It’s a real mixed feeling,” Mr Newton told The Standard.

“It’ll be nice to have football here but I’m very sad the fans can’t be here.

“The other thing is that it’ll be very nervy as it’s the first game. Everything’s been tested, but you never quite know.”

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David Newton and manager Craig Elliott on a site visit.David Newton and manager Craig Elliott on a site visit.
David Newton and manager Craig Elliott on a site visit.

While Mr Newton is hoping everything goes to plan, it is kicking off without the Pilgrims faithful that is really frustrating him.

“I’m looking forward to it, but it’s primarily sad we can’t have fans - football wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for them.

Football exists so we can all go and watch it.

“I must admit I feel slightly guilty watching games at the moment. We have to go to make sure everything is ok. We’re in a privileged position, but you still feel uncomfortable knowing others can’t go.”

At present the club only has permission to play matches behind closed doors.

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In order to gain a safety certificate to allow fans to enter, a test game has to be played with a crowd in attendance. The first opportunity supporters have to watch their club live down Pilgrim Way in a match will be used as that test game.

However, when that event can take place is still up in the air due to Lincolnshire being placed into tier three of the Government’s new Covid-19 system, beginning today.

When fans are allowed to return, the initial capacity could be around the 850 mark due to two sides of the stadium currently being finalised and SG02 (Supplementary Guidance 02: Planning for social distancing at sports grounds, published by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority) social distancing measures likely to be enforced on top of elite sports clubs only being allowed up to 2,000 fans or 50 per cent of capacity, whichever is lower in tier two.

In tier one that number rises to 4,000 or 50 per cent.

So how does Mr Newton feel as he looks at the stadium - now close to completion - after seven years of blood, sweat and tears?

“I just want it finished,” he added. “That’s all I feel.

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“To me, because we’re building it, it’s something we need to finish. That’s my focus.

“It won’t feel like a football stadium until we’ve had fans in it. It’s taken longer than we’d like but it’s quite a complicated building.”

MORE PILGRIMS: The Jakemans Community Stadium - in pictures.

MORE PILGRIMS: Mitch Rose signs

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