More than 30 MPs have written to sports minister Nigel Huddleston calling for fans to be allowed to attend non-league football matches.
A letter coordinated by former sports minister Tracey Crouch and Dame Cheryl Gillan, and sent to Huddleston on Monday, has asked the government to “urgently open the gates and let fans in”.
The MPs warned that clubs “at the heart of our constituencies” could be “lost forever” if an exemption is not granted.
They are calling for a distinction to be drawn between non-league clubs, which “tend to be supported by those within the town itself” and where average crowds are “in the hundreds”, and those above them in the Premier League and English Football League.
Leagues at Steps 5 and 6 were due to begin on 5 September but have said they will not do so without fans.
“Given we are now allowing indoor activities to resume in a Covid-safe way, we simply do not understand why non-league football clubs in outdoor stadia cannot allow their small but loyal fans back in through the gates,” the letter from MPs said.
A campaign using the slogan “#LetFansIn” has gained significant traction among non-league clubs in recent days, while two petitions supporting the cause have received more than 6,000 signatures.
BBC Sport understands the Football Association has submitted several proposals to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for spectators to be allowed to attend matches within the National League system and the women’s pyramid.
Crouch posted on Twitter: “Football has many wonderful layers but non league is often at its heart and soul. With fewer fans it’s easier to make clubs covid secure but without them coming back soon their future is shaky so we’ve written to Sports Minister calling for non league clubs to #LetFansIn.”
An FA spokesperson said: “We continue to follow Government advice with regards to the return of spectators and are working continuously with the Sports Ground Safety Authority, DCMS and Leagues to seek approval for a safe return as soon as feasibly possible.”