JON FLATMAN believes that York City Knights will be able to sell out their capacity at the LNER Community Stadium when fans return to grounds from next month.

Supporters will be allowed into the new home of York City Knights and York City for the first time from Monday, May 17, as part of the Government’s roadmap for easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Should the roadmap remain on track, the Knights’ home game against Oldham on May 23 will be the first time they will be able to host fans since March 2020.

A total of 4,000 fans will be able to attend the 8,500-seater ground at Monks Cross as part of the new measures.

York owner Flatman admitted he still was unclear over whether away supporters can enter but says that he thinks that the home fans will be able to fill up the Community Stadium regardless.

He said: “Some of the interpretation of the guidance is extremely difficult because ultimately, what is a sports event? Is it treated like indoors hospitality for the corporate? Is it an outdoor festival? There’s seating that’s undercover, but there’s turnstiles too.

“The guidance is very specific on what can and can’t happen, but it arrives later on.

“If you were guessing, I’d say while the ‘stay local’ phrase is in place, then there’s going to be an issue with people travelling vast distances.

“I don’t think we’ll be in a situation in the early home games where we will necessarily open it up to away fans because we’ll sell out the capacity we’re given at that time.

“Again, though, we’ll see what the guidance says. But we need to make plans and different scenarios because that guidance might not come until 10 days before.”

After a year of living under restrictions, it remains to be seen how eager fans will be return to sports grounds when they are allowed to do so.

There may be a rush of supporters desperate to witness live sport once again - but equally, people may be cautious about mixing at mass events after such a long period of isolation.

“There’s a piece of work that’s been done about expectations around it and it’s about public-confidence levels,” Flatman added.

“There will be people who are very much risk-averse, who won’t go anywhere near public events, and that’s natural. There will be some at the end of the scale that are straight in the nightclubs as soon as possible.

“The challenge is where that happy medium is and where the masses are.

“There’s a good piece of work by UK Sport, which should come out soon, on whether alcohol should be limited, whether people should be socially-distanced and what makes you feel comfortable in a stadium.

“It’s very tough to predict.

“I think that there are people who want to get back to what they love.

“There will be another group that will want to get just to get out to an events-based culture.

“Those people will hopefully see the stadium as an opportunity to do that.”

Flatman is looking forward to the much-vaunted May 23 date when supporters will be allowed in and can properly turn the LNER Community Stadium into their new home.

He believes the city now has a stadium that is the envy of others.

“I think we’ve got a magnificent stadium,” Flatman said.

“Bootham Crescent was our home for four years and we made it our home by being loud and being successful.

“It was the people in it that made it a home rather than just a house.

“I wouldn’t judge this stadium until it’s got its people in it.

“I really push back on any assumptions that we know what the stadium will be like.

“People have said to me, ‘It’s loud with just 10 people in.’ Well, imagine it with 3,000 people in the main stand.

“I think it looks absolutely magnificent on the television and it’s a great stage to play at.

“The dining and corporate facilities are immense and the quality of the players’ experience is on another level.

“This stadium will be special and everyone in the game who doesn’t have a facility like this wants a facility like this for good reason.”