JON FLATMAN has said he is “like a kid at Christmas” as York City Knights prepare to host fans for the first time at the LNER Community Stadium this weekend.

York take on Oldham on Sunday (3pm) and will welcome back their supporters for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March last year.

The Betfred Championship game will also see a mximum of 1,000 fans allowed into the LNER Community Stadium for the first time since it opened in February.

Having spent over a year awaiting the return of crowds to rugby league matches and even longer awaiting fans entering the new Monks Cross ground, Knights chairman Flatman has expressed his anticipation for the historic game.

“I’m like a kid at Christmas, we don’t know exactly what we’re going to get yet, but we know that it’s going to be a good day,” he enthused.

“We’ve got an opportunity here to share the facility with the fans and we’ve been crying out for that for a long time. It’s a a real positive step forward.”

Asked about his own personal pride ahead of the match, Flatman replied: “We are just the custodians of the club, and that’s the important point to remember.

“On this watch, we’re fortunate enough to deliver the stadium and introduce people to it and it gives everybody great pride to be able to enjoy this together.

“Fundamentally, the home support has been huge for the Knights, certainly in the last three or four years. It certainly has played a huge part in our success.

“Without putting anyone in an awkward situation, we haven’t won our last three home games but this game is the first proper home game and it’s a home game because the fans are there.”

York’s planning for this fixture began before the start of the 2021 season, when the government’s roadmap was first announced.

Explaining the logistical challenges, Flatman said: “Our preparations started several months ago, but it has all gathered pace as we’ve approached matchday.

“From the government guidance being announced, which then has to map off against the stadium regulations, which all has to be approved by the local authority.

“There’s some chain of commands there to go through in order to deliver ultimately the best fan experience possible.

“It’s a real challenge and it’s the first game with fans in this stadium, which in itself is a challenge.

“It’s a challenge coming off the back of the Covid period and the logistical difficulties of social distancing.

“It will not feel how we hope it feel in hopefully three to six months time. But it’s a huge step forward and it’s been a huge logistical effort from everybody to get us into this position.”

Though the Knights are keen not to overlook the challenges of the weekend, plans are in place for an increased crowd as the weeks progress.

Flatman said: “That’s all in place and will be announced in due course.

“I can tell you that there’s an extremely positive uplift expected for the (1895 Cup) semi-final against Swinton (on June 6), which should allow far more people to come to the game.

“We aren’t at the levels that we want to be, which is obviously a full stadium, because of the government guidance, but we are progressing towards where we need to be.

“We understand that it’s a process, and it’s a process for good reason.

“We expect an uplift, presuming things go well on Sunday, because all these events build on the previous one and its successes or failures.

“Presuming it’s a success logistically, with people following the rules, there’s an incentive there for everybody to up that number for the big semi-final.”