Wednesday night, as we all now know, put United in the history books as we became the first club (courtesy of our slightly earlier kick off timing) to welcome fans back into the stadium, and they were rewarded with a victory – with striker Lewis Alessandra also taking a place in said history scrolls as the first player to score in front of a crowd post-lockdown part two.
Providing an update from a club point of view, chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “I would like to thank every fans who came to the game on Wednesday night. They certainly made enough noise for far more than 2,000.
“Everything went well from a club, safety and Covid compliance point of view and the fans were quite simply terrific and it was great for us to see them all back with us.
“Getting everything ready was a major task for a small number of admin and ticket office staff, and also for our stadium staff, so some colleagues found themselves helping out in other areas having completed their own preparations.
“Being called back from furlough to work overtime at short notice is not a good situation to be faced with. Every member of staff who played a part in this behind the scenes did the club proud and showed what they are about.
“I am pleased they have got some plaudits, they deserve them.”
Looking at some details:
- Selling tickets for single matches within Covid restrictions, over the phone, is not ideal and is something we will look at.
- Fans showed a very high level of compliance with the mandatory face covering and social distancing requirements, which was crucially important.
- Voluntary face covering use at other times was limited, even in busier areas like the centre of the Paddock, and at times of more congestion when entering and leaving the stadium.
- Fans arrived in good time and that helped with providing a socially distant and safe entry to the stadium, which again was excellent.
- Fans followed the Spectator Code of Conduct, which is very important, and responded positively when requests were made of them by our stewards and safety staff.
- Everyone sat in their allocated position, and the social distancing measure we took were very visible in the seated areas.
- The Warwick was very sparsely used, therefore there was a lot of free space.
- The Paddock is probably the biggest area for us to look at going forward, and this includes in terms of fan spacing. There was a tendency to bunch in the centre and a possibility of congestion at full time. Fans again responded positively when asked to do so.
- We had additional toilets on the west side of the stadium, but they saw little use as fans stayed in place at half time (far more than they usually do).
“We’ve seen feedback and comment from many quarters before and after the game, as we would expect, given the scrutiny we were under as soon as we confirmed that fans were to be welcomed back,” he added.
"Looking at how the game went and picking up on the learning points is important and really helps keep us on track.
“We’ve been reviewing things constantly from all sources of information to get a broad view. Crucially, our safety officer confirmed there were no significant issues on the night.
“The News & Star was very quick after the game to ask fans what they had made of things, both on and off the pitch, so I’m pleased the responses I saw were favourable. I listened to BBC Radio Cumbria post-match and they reported fan feedback which again was positive.
“Looking at the message board and wider social media again, the feedback was generally ok, and we’ve had positive comments come directly to the club, and all of these messages and comments have been very welcome.
“The formal debrief from staff and stewards gave us similar feedback. I spoke to CUOSC pre-match and they are also going to seek feedback through their channels.
“To round it off, in Chris Beech’s post-match interview he praised the office staff for getting a scout ticket arranged for him. He recognises the importance and role a crowd can play for him as he does his job, so he was very happy.
“When you put feedback together from a wide range of sources, as we have, it’s clear the game went without incident and we can build on it positively it for next time.
“Of course there will be learning points, but it was a special night and one we are delighted with.
“In the coming days we will look at all of the learning points, with a particular focus on ticketing, the centre of the Paddock, and entry and exit from the ground.
“These factors will be considered closely as we start to plan for the Stevenage game.”