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‘Now is the time’ to allow fans to return, say MEA United

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A partnership between Mid and East Antrim Borough Council (MEABC) and three local Irish Football League clubs says there is ‘real excitement’ among supporters about when a date will be announced for the permitted return of fans to their stadia.

Competitive outdoor sport organised by a club or individuals has resumed without spectators and with no more than 100 people participating.

Representatives of MEA United, a task force made up of Council in collaboration with Ballymena United, Larne FC and Carrick Rangers FC, are now calling for the resumption of reopening sporting fixtures to spectators.

The three local clubs last year joined forces with MEABC to form MEA United, in a joint bid to secure £25million from the Department for Communities for the development of football stadia across the borough, and recently launched their blueprint for the future of the sport locally.

Kenny Bruce, Larne FC owner, said:

“There is real excitement among our fans about getting back to enjoying the game and as a club we are hopeful that the Northern Ireland Executive will announce a date for that to happen sooner rather than later.

“Our clubs are at the heart of our communities, and we have been consistent in adhering to the health and wellbeing of our players and staff throughout the pandemic.

“Football is about the fans, and we want them back to soak up the atmosphere of competitive action as soon as we can.”

Councillor Matthew Armstrong added:

“We are delighted to see sports men and women return to their fields of play in Northern Ireland, and will continue to champion the call for a date on which sporting clubs will be permitted to open their gates to their loyal fans.

“There is no better time to allow our clubs to do what they do best, and that is provide a link to their communities and foster the love of sport.”

Councillor Gregg McKeen also supported the call, saying:

“It is wonderful to see the resumption of some businesses sectors and that competitive sport has started again.

“There is a real appetite for spectators to be welcomed back to their clubs and we are all ready to see a date for that to happen.”

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