FOOTBALL fans will have to wait a little longer before returning to sports venues after a rise in coronavirus cases lead to a further tightening of restrictions.

Robbie Cowling, Colchester United’s chairman, had hoped to welcome some fans back to the JobServe Community Stadium next month.

In a statement, Mr Cowling said playing to an empty stadium at the start of the season had cost the club money.

He said selling stream passes for fans to watch matches online does not benefit clubs with smaller fan bases.

“Bolton made more money in gate receipts from our home fixture than we did because they had the revenue from 1,752 passes, whereas we had the revenue from 952 passes,” he said.

“In normal times, we would have expected about £54,000 in home gate receipts from this fixture, but we will receive just shy of £8,000.”

He added: “Bolton look set to receive about £345,000 from the streaming of their away games this season, whilst we can look forward to approximately £0.

“Perhaps these facts might help some of you that think we should still be in the Championship understand what we are up against.”

Boris Johnson said the spread of the virus was also affecting the reopening of conferences and exhibitions.

Amongst a list of tougher restrictions, the Prime Minister said the penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will double to £200 for a first offence.

Fines of up to £10,000 for those who fail to self-isolate have already been introduced.

With a 10pm curfew set to be put in place for all pubs, Mike Lilley, Colchester councillor responsible for public safety, said he is “extremely worried.”

“I am not impressed with this curfew,” he said.

“One thing we have always tried to avoid over the years is to have every licensed premises in town kick out their clientele at the same time.

“It is then up to the limited resources of the police to deal with any resultant issues.

“I have yet to establish whether these rule applies to takeaway places, as this is where everyone will be heading after being kicked out of every bar in town at 10pm.”

In a message of reassurance to parents yesterday, Essex County Council leaders penned an open letter urging calm around positive cases within schools.

They said: “We would encourage you to consider what you post on social media, particularly around positive cases, as this can cause further anxiety and concern.

“In the event of a confirmed case in your child’s bubble, a specialist advice team will work with the school to carry out a risk assessment to identify who has been in close contact with the individual during the period they were infectious.”