COLCHESTER United chairman Robbie Cowling has urged the club’s returning fans to ‘respect and follow the guidelines’ ahead of the JobServe Community Stadium opening its doors again.

U’s fans are set to return to the venue for their clash with Grimsby Town on Saturday week (December 5), following the Government’s decision to allow a limited supporters to attend games again from next week.

Colchester is currently a Tier Two area, which means a maximum of 2,000 fans will be allowed at outdoor events from the end of lockdown, next Wednesday.

The U’s have chosen to initially welcome back a maximum of 1,000 of their Seasonal Permit holders for the visit of Grimsby, with Colchester already having made plenty of provisions for the return of fans to their stadium.

It will be the first time U’s fans have been able to watch a game in the stadium since the League Two clash with Cheltenham Town at the venue, in February.

Cowling is looking forward to having fans back but wants them to follow the guidelines in place at the stadium and respect the Covid-19 restrictions.

Cowling told the U’s website: “If you do attend the stadium for a match this season whilst we have Covid-19 restrictions in place, please respect and follow the guidelines we have put in place because we know some of them will make the matchday a bit more awkward for all of us.

“But I assure you there is not one single thing that we are doing that is deliberately designed to be more awkward.

“It is currently my understanding that away fans will not be permitted into games for the foreseeable and that iFollow streaming will continue to be available until everything is completely back to normal.

“With the recent good news on the vaccines that are going to be available soon, we can finally see a way out of the pandemic.

“Please remain careful though because the virus is no respecter of Christmas. Even though we are beating it, the virus will be more than happy to take out a few more victims on its way out.”

Meanwhile, Cowling has praised Colchester’s staff and fans for the way in which they have conducted themselves, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Things have been and still remain very testing but I have to say that Colchester United staff and fans have been superb the whole way through this crisis and it’s during times like these that you realise just what a great club we have and what a real crisis is,” added Cowling.

“Losing to Exeter 6-1 this week is really painful but we can recover quickly and use that pain to be better in the very near future. Hopefully bouncing straight back with a win next Tuesday before we welcome some of you back on the following Saturday.”