THE chairman of Indigo Group Premiership side Ebbw Vale has backed new restrictions on fans attending sporting fixtures.

And though the Steelmen are set to miss a bumper pay day of a festive derby clash with Newport the club's chairman has said his concern is for fans missing out on what can be a vital social lifeline for many.

The Premiership fixture at Eugene Cross Park on December 27 has been postponed because it would have had to be played behind closed doors.

The derby between the Steelmen and the Black and Ambers had been chosen for television coverage by S4C but it would have been played in silence as fans would not have been allowed in the ground.

But despite widespread anger within Welsh sport at the measures announced yesterday by first minister Mark Drakeford Ebbw chairman Jonathan Jones backed the toughned measures.

"Playing teams behind closed doors isn't financially viable," said Jones. "Boxing Day sport is traditionally one of our biggest pay days, we've probably paid our month's wages off that one game in the past.

"It's a savage blow financially but the club is 100 per cent supportive of what is happening.

"We have a duty of care to our community, players and staff but the downside is that a lot of people live on their own and we shouldn't underestimate them not having a big part of their social life over Christmas.

"That's the saddest thing, more than the loss of revenue. It's a difficult time and the hope is that we don't disappear down another rabbit hole for 18 months."

READ MORE: Sport in Wales goes behind closed doors from Boxing Day 

The entire round of Premiership fixtures that had been pencilled in to finish 2021 has been scratched and the league is likely to be paused until the Welsh government gives the green light for the turnstiles to be opened for more than 50 spectators.

Yesterday the top four divisions in Welsh football were suspended due to the strict 50 spectator limit.

Ebbw's frustration is exacerbated by having to call off their first home derby on the 26th or 27th of December since 2015 when they entertained Bedwas.

Last weekend's round of the Premiership was devastated by coronavirus outbreaks with only the televised Thursday game between Carmarthen Quins and Llanelli then Newport's trip to Aberavon surviving.

The Welsh Rugby Union's decision to not have promotion or relegation in any of its leagues has proved to be a shrewd one but clubs will still have plenty of time to fit in rearranged fixtures.

Newport's January 3 encounter with Swansea has already been postponed while Ebbw are currently scheduled to head to Pontypridd, but the fixture is unlikely to take place on that date.

The Steelmen's next home game is against Llanelli on Saturday, January 15 – the Black and Ambers host Merthyr on the same day – and there is the hope that a review will allow supporters back into Eugene Cross Park.

The size of crowds for Premiership games means that social-distancing wouldn't be a problem.

Newport are also set to host Bridgend in the quarter-finals of the Premiership Cup at Spytty Park on Saturday, January 22.

The WRU leagues below the top flight had a scheduled break and return on Saturday, January 8.

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