At least 23 non-league football matches have been called off due to fuel shortages preventing staff from traveling.
Gas stations across the country are running out of fuel, causing problems in a number of sectors, with a union urging the government to restrict pumps to only key workers, to ensure essential services are not disrupted.
Clubs in the Isthmian League – the third tier of non-league football – were told on Sunday that they would be allowed to cancel their next matches if fuel shortages prevented them from running the matches.
Lewes Football Club were among the first to cancel, claiming they were forced to postpone their game against Carshalton Athletic FC as “players, coaches, officials and supporters” were unable to attend as they could not refuel of their vehicles.
And Dereham Town called off his match against Bury Town FC because staff and “current fuel issues” meant the club were “unable to bring enough officials and volunteers to the pitch to organize. the game in complete safety “.
In a tweet, Lewes FC wrote: “Due to the national fuel shortage and the difficulty for players, coaches, officials and supporters to attend the match, tomorrow’s match against Carshalton AFC has been postponed.
“We will announce the new match date in due course.”
Carshalton Athletic FC said they were “disappointed” with the decision to postpone and urged Lewes to refund tickets “automatically and without delay”.
Bury Town FC have said they have been informed by the Isthmian League, in which they participate, “that if a club wished to postpone their matches, they could do so due to the current fuel problems”.
So far 23 semi-pro matches of the third level of non-league football have been canceled – a full roster can be found here.
There are still a number of games scheduled for this week, but that could change.
This comes from the fact that the government insisted that there was no shortage of fuel and that the supply problems at gas stations were only caused by panic buying – although the fuel suppliers said they were facing distribution problems caused by a lack of truck drivers.
Environment Secretary George Eustice denied the shortage of truck drivers was the main cause of the problem, dismissed calls for soldiers to drive tankers and said people should stop buying in panic.
“The most important thing is that people buy gasoline as they normally would. There is no shortage. There have been shortages of truck drivers to bring gasoline to the forecourt, but in reality it’s quite limited, ”he told broadcasters.
Asked about reports that the military would be enlisted to alleviate the driver shortage, Mr Eustice said there were “no plans at the moment” to use the military to drive tankers.
He suggested things would get back to normal if people panicked stop buying, but the Unison union called on the government to “designate gas stations for the exclusive use of key workers” to ensure that services essentials are not interrupted.
The union said: “Paramedics, nurses, caregivers, educational assistants, police personnel and other key workers should not be left behind or forced to queue for hours just to get to a pump.
“The government could solve this problem now by using emergency powers to designate gas stations for the exclusive use of key workers.”