Newport County boss Mike Flynn warns no fans will increase financial pressure

Mike Flynn
Mike Flynn has a strong bond with Newport’s fans having previously played for the club

Newport County manager Mike Flynn has warned of increasing financial pressures on lower league clubs the longer games continue without fans.

The lack of income from playing behind closed doors was among the factors in League One and League Two clubs voting to end last season early.

Cambridge United, who visit Newport in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, saw a pilot for fans’ return cancelled last week.

“The longer it drags on the harder it’s going to be,” said Flynn.

Cambridge United welcomed a crowd of 862 to the Abbey Stadium for last week’s EFL Trophy match with Fulham, in what was the sport’s first test event since the coronavirus lockdown.

But plans to host 2,000 fans for last weekend’s League Two game with Carlisle United were scrapped when crowds were capped to 1,000 following new UK government advice relating to England.

Only two small-scale trials with around 100 spectators – involving triathlon and a car rally – have been permitted in Wales.

‘Fingers crossed we get through this’

Flynn says Newport have budgeted not to have fans at Rodney Parade until January 2021.

“At one stage it was looking positive for October but that’s not looking too great at the minute so it’s tough, we need the fans in,” he said, adding that clubs need to take a collective stance on the future to avoid others following Bury, who left the EFL last year after financial problems.

Dr Rob Wilson, a sports finance expert from Sheffield Hallam University, last week said it would be a miracle if all clubs survived the season.

Newport have already missed out on one potential bumper gate with their Carabao Cup first-round tie with Welsh rivals Swansea City taking place behind closed doors.

Championship side Watford – who face Oxford United in the second round – will travel to the winners of the Newport-Cambridge tie.

Newport’s finances had been boosted by successful recent FA Cup runs, while Flynn claimed that the club’s use of a streaming service for home games for season ticket has helped, but added: “We still need the walk-ups as well because it’s basically only half what we can bring in, so it’s going to affect us.

“It’s a great gesture from them, spending when they can’t attend the games. We hit the target the club set which is good and hopefully we get a few more because it tops the coffers up.

“Fingers crossed we get through this. We want to see everyone healthy which is the most important thing, but we want fans back. It’s strange – annoying if I’m honest. I love the atmosphere.”

Meanwhile, Newport have confirmed they have terminated the contract of striker Ade Azeez by mutual consent.

The 26-year-old arrived in south Wales in January 2019 after leaving Cambridge, scoring once in 15 appearances having also spent the second half of last season on loan at National League side Torquay United.

BBC News