BURY AFC are ready to put up a fight to get more fans through the gates.

The government and relevant leagues this week confirmed that supporters would be allowed through the turnstiles again for matches in Steps 3 to 6.

But restrictions have been imposed according to ground capacity and the level at which teams play.

That means, despite ground-sharing with Radcliffe at the Neuven Stadium, North West Counties League newcomers Bury AFC will only be able to welcome 150 fans for August games, rising to 300 from September, as opposed to the 600 fans that Boro are permitted because they play at a higher level in the Northern Premier League.

Bury AFC, who were hoping for a four-figure fanbase as football returns to the borough for the first time in over a year, feel the system is unfair and have vowed to challenge the regulations.

A club statement read: "Many of you will have already seen the latest guidance which limits the number of fans allowed into Bury AFC matches to a mere 300 from September and 150 in August.

"We have been planning for some form of restriction on attendance levels at Radcliffe and understood that a rough 30 per of stadium capacity was the likely approach to take. We assumed that it would be 30 per cent of the capacity of the stadium we played in not, as the FA have announced, 30 per cent of the minimum capacity for a ground in the league we play in. So rather than the capacity be set at the 2500 capacity of the Neuven Stadium in Radcliffe, it is the 1000 capacity required for all Step 6 clubs regardless of size of stadium or fan base.

"Radcliffe, playing in the same stadium, will be allowed 600 into the game, which is above a typical attendance level for them. It is the same stadium with the same level of risk regardless of who is playing and in what division. The same social distancing rules apply.

"With memberships and shirt sales surpassing expectations we had conservatively forecast an average of 1200 fans per game, based on an estimated 800 season tickets and 400 on the door, with no Covid restrictions in place.

"Clearly interest levels will vary throughout the season but the amount of interest to date has been very strong and gave us great confidence.

"We have modelled lower amounts also to ensure we didn’t have to hit those numbers to keep our head above water. We have been working recently to an assumed limit of 750. Sustaining attendance levels of 300 for any significant period of time, requires a rethink of our ticketing policy. Not simply how we price them, but how we fairly and safely distribute a small number of tickets when demand far outstrips supply. There is no way of doing this which will please everyone, but we are working hard on the solution.

"We are looking into video streaming but restrictions imposed on streaming live games again make this difficult and it is not a substitute for allowing sensible levels of fan attendance.

"Nor are we accepting the position as it stands. A small but significant number of clubs will be penalised for no reason by these limits. these clubs bring significant revenue to other clubs through ticket sales and have invested in stadiums and infrastructure which support a community, not just a club."

In addition, the club have vowed to take action by doing the following:

Lobby local politicians, James Daly and Christian Wakeford, to petition for a more flexible, risk-based approach which would at the very least allow Radcliffe’s ground, not Bury AFC’s league, to be the primary consideration for safety purposes. 

Ask the North West Counties League for their support in increasing the attendance limits based on the ground, not the league, in the short term.

The statement continued: "The demand for tickets from Bury fans starved of football for so long gives us a genuine concern that it is less safe to allow only 300 fans into the ground and have many more queuing to get in outside the ground.

"We have already conducted a Covid-19 Risk Assessment and published the results on our website, and invested £2000 in an independent health and safety assessment to ensure that our fans are looked after.

"We are also investing in digital ticketing and purchasing solutions which will help reduce the risk of infection in accordance with best practice. We do not believe we are asking for anything unreasonable or increasing the risks to supporters in any way.

"We believe the current rules simply treat all clubs the same, based on league position and the flexibility of a considered, risk-based approach would be both safer for fans and more sustainable for the future of those clubs affected.

"What we won’t do is give up. We will start the season, come what may, with the aim of promotion."