IAN Evatt believes it is a shame that Wanderers fans will not be present at the start of the season with the University of Bolton Stadium ideally set-up for social distancing.

The EFL confirming a season start date of September 12 means there will be likely be three weeks of games in empty grounds with the Government monitoring trial events ahead of letting a limited number of spectators back in from the start of October.

Current estimates indicate between 17 and 33 per cent of fans will be allowed through the turnstiles, deciding on a final figure key for lower league clubs when weighing up finances in the ‘new normal’.

Reports this week even suggest that limited crowds may be a reality for the whole of the 2020/21 campaign with concerns over how chanting may encourage the spread of Covid-19.

The set-up of the UniBol means it was put forward as a potential host if the Premier League needed neutral venues as part of Project Restart, something that was initially considered before being rejected by top flight clubs as they completed their delayed season.

It is the suitability of his new home ground that leaves Evatt a little frustrated about having to wait to play in front of fans.

“It is what it is,” the Whites head coach told The Bolton News.

“It’s not ideal for us because we feel like with our facilities we could quite comfortably social distance with the size of stadium that we have.

The Bolton News: Wanderers boss Ian Evatt Wanderers boss Ian Evatt

“We’ve even got two tunnels. We’ve planned for social distancing. We’re in the same boat as everybody else though so it’s nothing to complain about too much.

“We’ve just got to adapt and overcome it.”

The start date for the new season came as no surprise to many with Evatt already more than a week into pre-season with his squad.

It has been suggested the opening round of the Carabao Cup will come before the first weekend of League Two fixtures, that the Wanderers boss’ only query with the adjusted scheduling.

“We kind of had of idea where we were at in terms of the season starting,” Evatt said.

“It’s obviously not ideal that the week before is the Carabao Cup which is a week too early.

“We can almost use that as another game really towards the Football League season.

“We’ll make sure we’re fully prepared for the start of the season on September 12.”

Wanderers have a pre-season friendly at FC United pencilled in exactly a month beforehand with Evatt looking to organise several more before the bid to get out of League Two at the first time of asking begins.

“If the first team lads can play six games that would be about right,” he said.

“There might be more fixtures because they’ll be a young group that maybe won’t get the minutes required that the main first team squad will have. 

“Six is ample in terms of first team fixtures though.”

Blackburn Rovers midfielder and Barrow promotion-winner Tom White became the fifth new recruit yesterday, Evatt working hard to build a squad that suits the possession-based style that brought him success at Holker Street in the National League and caught the attention of the Wanderers hierarchy when they moved to replace Keith Hill.

Bringing the players back last week gives the head coach eight weeks to get his message across, and finalise a squad ready for life in the fourth tier.

For Evatt, every day is going to count.

“We’ve had to go down a route of eight weeks because they’ve been sat at home for a long time and we’re implementing a whole new style, a whole new way of playing and a whole new group,” said the head coach, recently named as the National League manager of the season after his exploits in Cumbria.

“We need as much time as possible to make sure the players are used to how we work, what we do and how we want them to play.

“For us we need the length of time that we’re getting.”