Cross-border derby rivals Chester and Wrexham have confirmed that their Vanarama National League fixtures are to be played without bubble fixture restrictions.
‘Safe transport’ rulings have been in place for fixtures between the two sides since Chester returned to non-league’s top tier four years ago.
That meant away supporters had to travel to games via coaches organised by the clubs that arrived and departed at specific times to minimalise the chance of there being trouble between the two sets of supporters.
However, following a reduction in arrests at last season’s games, those restrictions have now been lifted.
The matches will remain all-ticket affairs, with the first meeting between the two sides now switched to a Friday night.
That takes place at Chester’s Lookers Vauxhall Stadium on Friday 10th November.
A joint statement between Cheshire Police, North Wales Police, Chester FC and Wrexham AFC explained the decision “The intention has always been to return the fixtures to 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, with independent travel for supporters.
“In the continued interests of safety, the games will remain all ticket and the initial match at Chester will take place at 7.45pm on Friday 10th November.
“No arrangements for the return fixture at Wrexham have yet been confirmed and will be reviewed following the match at Chester.
“Two incident free fixtures will see these arrangements reviewed further and will support consideration of a move towards 3pm kick offs, also with independent supporter travel.
“However, it remains the responsibility of all fans to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. Any inappropriate behaviour, incidents of disorder or damage to either stadium will not be tolerated and will give grounds for concern that the games cannot take place without continued safe transport arrangements.
“The driving factors behind the planning for these fixtures remain to reduce the potential for disorder, ensure the safety of fans, residents and visitors to Wrexham and Chester and to minimise disruption to local communities and businesses.”
Chester CEO Mark Maguire said “From when I first arrived at Chester FC twelve months ago the “bubble fixture” has been a significant talking point, and it has been very clear that the vast majority of fans have felt that it inhibits a great fixture.
“Equally I have been impressed by the consistently expressed wish of both police forces to return this match back to a “normal” fixture with a 3pm kick off.
“To get there everybody concerned needs to take responsibility, and having pushed for this to happen we will now be calling about all right minded fans of both clubs to ensure that nothing takes away from what should be one of the highlights of the football calendar.
“The atmosphere on and off the pitch should be passionate, feverish and will mean the world to all concerned but it should stay within the rules and, particularly during a period of remembrance we hope that both sets of fans will create an atmosphere which convinces all concerned that this was the right thing to do.”
Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)