COLCHESTER United chairman Robbie Cowling says they will be taking a 'cautious first step' as they prepare to welcome back some fans, next month.

A number of supporters will be allowed back into grounds from next week, following the lifting of the Government's Covid-19 restrictions.

Colchester are set to welcome back some of their fans for their home clash against Grimsby Town, on Saturday December 5.

However, they will only be allowing a limited supporters who have bought Seasonal Permits to attend the League Two game at the JobServe Community Stadium, with the club initially restricting numbers to 1,000 for the spectators' first game back.

It has been announced this morning that Essex has been placed in Tier 2, meaning clubs can welcome back up to 2,000 spectators, from December 2.

In a statement on the U's website, Cowling said: "My attitude towards the virus and the lockdowns never has been and never will be blasé.

"In all of my businesses I have taken the steps required to responsibly mitigate the risks of spreading the virus and the football club is no different and our first step towards a full opening will have to be a cautious one.

"That will mean being quite restrictive for the first game against Grimsby on December 5th, but I assure you all that we will be working flat out to make that fixture a success and to then get as many more fans as we can safely into our game against Morecambe on December 19th.

"We will always of course be restricted by: 1. The tier we are placed in by the Government - The initial rules will allow 4,000 fans into stadiums located in Tier One areas, 2,000 fans into stadiums located in Tier Two areas and no fans into stadiums located in tier three areas.

2. The number of fans we can safely allow into the stadium - We will find out today which tier we have been placed in but seeing as Colchester has one of the lowest infection rates in the country, I’m hopeful that we will be placed in Tier One.

"The sale of the Season Permits will be taken offline again at 5:30pm on Thursday 3rd December so that we don’t have any last minute purchases for the first fixture or beforehand if we get to 1000 permits sold because we do not want to allow more than 1,000 fans into the first fixture. Either way they will go back on sale on Monday 7th December."

Seasonal Permits are currently on sale for Colchester fans to purchase until Thursday, December 3 at 5.30pm.

They will go back on sale on Monday, December 7, after the Grimsby game.

Cowling added: "I appreciate that we also have many very loyal supporters who can’t attend every game so don’t need a season permit but are equally desperate to get back to watching live games as soon as we open.

"I understand that many of you want to be there for the first game back and will be disappointed by this approach.

"Please be patient and understand just how much work is going to be involved in getting the stadium ready for the first game and just how important it is that the first fixture demonstrates a safe and enjoyable environment for live football.

"Achieving this is not just important for the fans but also for all of the staff and players too."

Cowling confirmed that car parking will be available to buy online for Season Permit holders for the Grimsby match and said fans will be allowed to bring their own non-alcoholic refreshments into the stadium and encouraged them to remain in their seats whilst they consume them.

The U's Club Shop will be open for the Grimsby game with strict social distancing measures in place and we will also be open on some non-match days, during the lead up to Christmas.