English football club ‘investigated’ by Welsh police over alleged Covid rule breach as ground is in Wales
A Welsh police force has said it is working to “investigate” an English football club over an alleged Covid rule breach because their ground is in Wales.
In a joint statement North Wales Police and Flintshire County Council said they are working together to “investigate” whether matches played at Chester FC’s stadium on 28 December and 2 January broke the Welsh Government’s coronavirus regulations.
Alert level two rules have been in place in Wales since December 26, in a bid to try to tackle the a surge in Omicron cases, which has meant groups of no more than 50 have been allowed to meet outdoors.
There is a limited exception in place for team sports which allows 50 spectators to gather in addition to those involved. Under the rules professional sports has to be played behind closed doors.
However since these rules came into force Chester FC, who play in the National League North, have hosted two games with fans in attendance.
The club’s Deva Stadium home is on the Sealand Road Industrial Estate and lies on the Welsh side of the border with England. This border runs along the back of the East Stand with the pitch and as well as four stands lying in Flintshire.
On December 28, a crowd of 2,075 saw the team play a 2-2 draw against Fylde. A crowd of 2,116 witnessed the club’s 1-1 draw with Telford on Sunday, January 2.
There are currently no restrictions on outdoor gatherings in England. As an English club, Chester is under the jurisdiction of the English FA, and the club’s offices are on the Cheshire side of the border.
However, a Welsh Government spokesman said Welsh regulations were in force because the stadium is in Wales.
A joint North Wales Police and Flintshire County Council statement sent to Nation.Cymru, said: “Discussions around Chester FC’s recently-played home fixtures remain ongoing between North Wales Police and our partner agencies.
“North Wales Police and Cheshire Police, along with representatives from Flintshire County Council, are working together to review and investigate the matches played at Chester’s stadium on 28 December and 2 January, following reports of COVID Regulation breaches.
“Further meetings have been arranged between North Wales Police, Cheshire Police, Flintshire County Council and Chester FC officials to discuss the situation further and we will issue an update in due course.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson told WalesOnline: “Chester Football Club’s stadium is in Wales therefore Welsh regulations apply.
“As the enforcing authorities Flintshire County Council and North Wales Police are dealing with the matter.”
Chester FC chair Andrew Morris said: “Protecting the health and wellbeing of our supporters, volunteers, staff, players, and the wider community is our priority and, as we have done throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, our club continues to follow the latest guidance from the government, Cheshire West and Chester Council, and the Football Association.
“Throughout the pandemic we have actively engaged with all relevant statutory organisations around the safe facilitation of football and other associated events at the Deva Stadium to ensure we meet local and national requirements and continue to do so.”
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