CHAIRMAN Gavin Foxall says it’s “puzzling” that Newport County AFC will be put at a sporting disadvantage next month when playing to silence at Rodney Parade.

The Exiles’ League Two fixture against Forest Green Rovers on Boxing Day was postponed because of coronavirus cases in the visitors’ squad.

Had the game gone ahead then it would have been played behind closed doors due to Welsh government restrictions due to the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Promotion-chasing County are next in action on Wednesday when they travel to Leyton Orient and then they head to Walsall on New Year’s Day.

As things stand, Exiles fans will be able to watch from the away end when outnumbered by English support but will have to tune in to iFollow for fixtures in Newport.

South Wales Argus:

“That’s the difficult part and something that most people find puzzling. We are dealing with a pandemic that doesn’t have borders and we are in a situation where we potentially can’t have our fans in our own ground but they can travel,” said Foxall.

“From a sporting perspective it puts us at a disadvantage because you haven’t got fans at home games roaring you on as they have all season.

“That will have an impact, without a shadow of a doubt, and it’s a bizarre position to be in.

“This is not a localised situation, it’s an international one let alone a national one. It’s puzzling, I am not a scientist or politician but it is a bizarre position to be in.”

County are planning for the January 8 meeting with Salford to be behind closed doors and are waiting for further announcements for games beyond that after Welsh government reviews.

James Rowberry’s side also host Harrogate and Barrow next month and have a run of four fixtures on home soil between February 12 and March 5 against Oldham, Mansfield, Tranmere and Bristol Rovers.

South Wales Argus: JOY: Manager James Rowberry celebrates County's win over Port Vale with the fansJOY: Manager James Rowberry celebrates County's win over Port Vale with the fans

“Anyone who was at the Sutton and Port Vale games would have seen how important the fans and the atmosphere that they create is to the team,” said Foxall, referring to this month’s comeback wins at a raucous Rodney Parade.

“Firstly, I am really disappointed for the supporters and secondly it does have a financial impact on the club because gate revenue is an important stream for the club.

“Welsh government say that there is a financial package for sport of £3million and while we will be grateful for anything that we get, I can’t see it going that far given how many clubs, sports and significant events like the Welsh Grand National are affected.

“That amount of money doesn’t feel as though it will go very far and we don’t know exactly how it will be administered at the moment.”

County planned for playing behind closed doors all last season and won’t be plunged into immediate problems from loss of matchday revenue.

“Any drop in income has an impact but we are in a financially stable position as a club. Of course, that can’t go on forever and we would be looking for external support, and Welsh government have said there is a fund,” said Foxall.

County season ticket holders will get free access to home games on iFollow with individual match passes available for £10.

The hope is that they will soon be back to watch from the stands and terraces as the Exiles aim for a promotion bid.

“Welsh government make the rules and we have to abide by them but fans are the heartbeat of any club,” said Foxall.

“We saw in lockdown that football is nothing without supporters, I know that’s a cliché but we saw that for the Forest Green play-off semi-final even though numbers were restricted.

“We had 900-odd supporters in but it sounded like 9,000 and it was emotional when the players came out and the crowd roared.

“It’s not the same for the fans watching at home, it’s not the same for the players out on the field so I am just hopeful it doesn’t last for a prolonged period.

“We can't control that, we will try and influence it as much as possible with our engagement with Welsh government but ultimately they will make decisions based on the criteria that they have laid down.”