SPORTS grounds in Gwent will once again be without crowds from Boxing Day after the Welsh Government ruled games must be played behind closed doors to curb the spread of the omicron variant.

The rules will apply to all levels of sport in Wales from December 26, and no end date has been officially given.

It comes as Welsh Government ministers are meeting again today to decide if further restrictions are needed after Christmas.

The Argus has been speaking to sports clubs in Gwent to get their reaction to the ban on fans at matches.

Monmouth RFC had been gearing up for a good turnout for their Boxing Day derby clash with Usk RFC, but chairman Andrew Davies has cast fresh doubt over whether the game will go ahead without fans watching on.

“Both our first and second teams were due to play Usk in our local derby clash on Boxing Day," he said.

"It’s a good revenue boost for both clubs really and it’s a game that always draws a good crowd.

“Rugby is a game for the crowd and is enjoyed by different generations, so it’ll be a real shame to have to cancel the fixture.

“We’ve got two home games in January – which again we’re unsure will happen if nobody’s allowed to watch from the side-lines.”

Mr Davies said there was confusion amongst teams in smaller divisions on how the rules will work.

“You’ll have lots of teams that will be playing matches in parks – particularly at grassroots level. How do you police that?” he said.

“We’ll also have people in the clubhouse on Boxing Day watching whatever games are on the TV, so it doesn’t quite make sense.”

Gerald Clark is the chairman and owner of Gwent County Football League side Newport Saints FC; he says the ban on spectators has put the club in a difficult position.

“Fans bring in quite a bit of income for us,” he said.

“Whether that’s selling programmes, to offering tea and coffee – we can make as much as £100 from people coming to watch.

“If it’s one of the kids’ games on a Sunday, we can easily make a couple of hundred pounds from fans – so it is important to us.

“We’re in a tricky position really because we’re not allowed to call off games otherwise, we’ll have to pay a forfeit fee. The money they put out to support sports clubs never seems to reach us at grassroots level.

“We’re just a bit confused because they’ve said that being outdoors is the safest place you can be so why now are they putting these restrictions on fans?”

Newport RFC, which plays its rugby in the Welsh Premiership, has told the Argus that the WRU is currently canvassing club opinions on matches without supporters.

The Black and Ambers have been in fine form of late, having won their last four games.

A spokesperson for the club said: “We’d obviously prefer fans to be at our matches. We’ve got two away fixtures during the Christmas period before our next home game at Rodney Parade on January 15.

“The WRU is currently canvassing club opinions on games without fans in attendance.”

Economy minister Vaughan Gething said he hoped that crowds would be back "as soon as possible" but urged people's health was a top priority. 

Mr Gething said: "Throughout the pandemic we have followed scientific and public health advice to keep people safe. The advice is clear – we need to act now in response to the threat of omicron. We are giving people as much notice of these decisions as we can."