SPECTATORS can attend "non-elite" sporting events from Saturday after government and FA guidelines were clarified.

Previously, fans were forbidden from attending matches until Nigel Huddlestone, Minister for Sport, Tourism Heritage and tweeted the clarification.

He said: "We’ve clarified guidance for organisers of non-elite sports events to help them admit spectators safely – with social distancing.

"The @FA definition of non-elite means #football clubs from Level 7 (below National League N/S) can admit some spectators."

The clarification means football clubs at Step 3 and below can admit fans this weekend, allowing the likes of Dorchester Town (Step 3), Portland and Bridport (both Step 5) to open up their games to the paying public.

Further guidance from the FA states that the graded capacity of Step 3 and 4 grounds is 1,950 and 1,350 respectively with Steps 5 and 6 at 1,000.

From Saturday, clubs can admit 15 per cent of fans in line with the Stage 1 graded capacity, rising to 30 per cent at Stage 2 from Monday, August 31.

This gives a maximum capacity between 22-30 August at Step 3 of 300 fans, rising to 600 should they host a Stage 1 fixture.

However, Weymouth (Step 1) are still classed as elite and must wait before fans can attend their fixtures after promotion to the National League.

According to government advice, clubs must ensure their facilities are COVID-secure, with test and trace mechanisms in place before fans can attend.

Theoretically, fans can spectate at grounds as soon as each individual club meets the Government's safety criteria.

Once "droplet transmission" risk assessments are completed, each sport can introduce 'COVID-19 adaptations' which reduce the frequency of activities where social distancing is not possible.

Teams and supporters must still refrain from handshakes, huddles and celebrations where social distancing rules are broken.

All spectators must remain socially distanced in groups of six or fewer and spread out two metres apart.

Football fans in particular had requested, via the #Letfansin movement, the readmittance of spectators.

Over 10,000 people signed a petition for the return non-league fans, upon whom clubs rely for financial stability.

Clubs have lost significant income through the coronavirus, missing out on crucial matchday income from ticket revenue, sponsorship and food and drinks sales plus many more cash streams.

Football leagues at Steps 3 and below are now expected to begin as scheduled.