Chairman Harrogate calls for a delay in the final

Harrogate

Harrogate chairman Irving Weaver has urged the Football Association to reconsider its decision to stage last season’s rescheduled FA Trophy and FA Vase finals behind closed doors.

The FA announced last week that both 2019/20 finals will happen at Wembley on May 3 – a fortnight before fans are allowed back in to attend sporting events.

Harrogate secured promotion to the English league for the primary time in its 106-year history in August once they beat Notts County at an empty Wembley within the National League play-off final.

“I think it’s tragic for our fans,” Irving told the PA press agency. “Can you imagine? Never been there in 106 years and that we get there twice within the space of 1 year and no fans are allowed. It’s really sad.”

Irving said he blamed coronavirus rather than the FA but fully supported a web petition launched in the week by the club’s supporter liaison officer Phillip Holdsworth.

“Well we’ve needed to support that, we would like the fans there and good on them for posing for it. It shows a touch of spirit,” Irving said.

“We want to endorse that and put pressure on the FA, but I do know it’s a difficult equation for them.

“All we will do is tell them: ‘Come on, please, really try’. the matter is there are four teams involved, it’s not only one club, everybody’s missing it.

“I don’t think it had been avoidable. It’s another thing we will put right down to Covid.”

Last season’s final between Harrogate and Concord Rangers was initially rescheduled for September.

But it had been postponed again thanks to further coronavirus restrictions and therefore the FA had been hoping a replacement date would mean fans could attend before fixture congestion prompted last week’s announcement.

“You can criticize the FA, but they were forced to try to an equivalent last week with the EFL Trophy,” Irving added. “They’ve just needed to get the games in, they’ve got the Euros coming.

“It’s a difficult one for them. They’ve also needed to get through the play-offs at Wembley, it’s a very tight schedule.”

Harrogate is 12th in Sky Bet League Two and a home win against Morecambe on Saturday would lift them to within five points of the play-offs.

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