JASON Tindall says the delay of fans returning to stadia is a "big blow", particular for lower league clubs, adding: "It's really sad times to see what is happening."

After a host of pilot events, it had been hoped that a more widespread relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions would come in from tomorrow to allow more supporters into grounds.

However, as announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week, those plans have been delayed for up to six months due to a spike in the virus across the country.

Since the pandemic struck the UK in March, there have been no supporters allowed into Vitality Stadium, although Cherries were part of a pilot event at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium earlier this month, where 1,000 fans attended the Championship fixture.

But it looks like it could be a while until even reduced numbers such as that will be allowed in again.

Tindall told the Daily Echo: "I think it’s a big blow. In my opinion, football without fans is nothing.

"You do miss your fans when they’re not there. With only 1,000 fans at Middlesbrough I felt it was just great to have some kind of atmosphere and you felt that they did make a difference to the game and to the home side.

"It’s a shame that that has been paused, but I’m sure when the right time is there and the government feel it’s right to let fans back into the stadium, that will happen.

"When that happens, I don’t know. From my point of view I hope it is quickly, I hope we can get fans back at the Vitality for them to see their team play, and for us to have the fans here would be great."

While Tindall would love to have supporters back for Cherries' games, the financial impact of empty stadia is having an even more significant impact further down the football pyramid.

Non-league club Macclesfield Town have been expelled from the National League having been wound-up earlier this month due to unpaid debts exceeding £500,000.

And Tindall knows better than most just how tough it is for some lower league and non-league clubs to survive, having managed Weymouth before joining the coaching staff at Cherries during their financial struggles more than a decade ago.

"The lower down the pyramid you go, I think you solely rely pretty much on your income from fans coming into the stadium," he said.

"So it’s really sad times to see what is happening. Obviously no-one ever saw this (COVID) coming and it’s something that you just hope the sooner we can get fans in, it will just help the situation for everybody.

"Certainly it’s the lower league teams that really rely on that income coming in from their fans coming in to watch their team play."

He added: "There’s a lot of good people out there, as we’ve seen when this football club was in financial trouble many, many years ago.

"There were a lot of kind-hearted people that put their hands in their pockets and contributed.

"I’m sure if need be, with these (struggling) teams, you’ll get those type of people that will try and help as best as they can. But it’s a difficult time for everybody right now."