BARROW AFC face the prospect of playing their pre-season home games in front of empty stands.

Cumbria County Council's safety advisory group (SAG) has come down hard on the club following their annual inspection at Holker Street.

Issues with a lack of certification for various electrical systems, combined with safety concerns over weeds on the terraces and boarding around a floodlight pylon have seen them impose a zero S-factor safety rating – reducing capacity of the Brian Arrowsmith Stand and the Wilkie Terrace to nothing.

AFC managing director Andrew Casson admits various paperwork – some of which will be out of date by a year, others by a matter of days when pre-season matches start – was not completed, but points to recent power supply problems which have prevented new electrical surveys being carried out.

The Bluebirds have been left shocked and hugely disappointed by the decision – which Casson says jeopardises the club's future.

Casson says the SAG were made aware of the issues at hand before their inspection and he had assured them all relevant paperwork would be completed.

“I think this group has gone completely over the top and is jeopardising this football club for reasons completely unbeknown to me,” said Casson.

“It's not like I wasn't making them aware of our situation, or anything like that. I've let them know my displeasure, because to me it was completely ridiculous.”

A statement from Cumbria County Council said: “ The audit was pre-arranged with the club, and unfortunately Barrow AFC were unable to demonstrate that the licensed stands could be operated safely as they had not completed the necessary up to date and key safety reports/certificates which is a requirement of the licence .

“ The Safety Advisory Group regrettably made the decision to reduce the stands capacity to zero. It is the club's responsibility to carry out these checks, and the Safety Advisory Group has advised Barrow AFC that when the reports are provided the decision will be quickly reviewed.

“ The Safety Advisory Group is aware that there is a pre-season friendly game on July 10, and trusts that the club can carry out the necessary work prior to this date.”

The power supply problem has now been solved, with new cables having been laid following issues beneath the Popular Side car park. The Crossbar building had been running on a generator.

Casson said the relevant inspections are being carried out to complete the necessary safety certificates this week, at the earliest possible moment and in time for Tuesday's meeting with Carlisle United at Holker Street.

But there is the prospect of a reassessment of the safety factor – and thus the capacity – not taking place in time for Tuesday's match, as well as subsequent home fixtures against Crewe Alexandra and Newcastle United Under-23s over the following week.

The minutes for the SAG meeting on Friday, June 22, reveal that the group found the following issues.

The electrical certificate, valid until July 10, had not been renewed and there were 'several defects' with the system.

The PA system certificate had expired in May.

The emergency lighting certificate expired in July 2017.

No structural integrity report was available – though they were advised the inspection had been conducted and the report was due before the start of the season.

The certificate for the gas boiler expired in May.

Casson said he informed the county council of the problems before the scheduled assessment – as well as his own inability to attend as he was called to a compulsory National League meeting on the same day, with safety officer Mike Forsyth and deputy safety office Tracy Clarke representing the club.

As well as obtaining the needed certificates, Casson insists other issues of concern raised in the report have also been dealt with, such as the replacement of boarding round the base of one of the new floodlight pylons, though he is incredulous the club have been accused of lacking commitment on spectator safety.

“We have all of this in hand – it was all meant to be complete by this week,” he said. “But rather than take a reasoned approach, they have taken the nuclear option, and I have no idea why.”

The SAG did recognise that the club's safety policies, records and spectator safety understanding and routines were all acceptable, but were strongly critical of the club in the summation.

The meeting minutes say: “The club management were unable to demonstrate a positive attitude to spectator safety through its documentation on safety policies and certification.

“Key certificates including electrical safety and structural integrity of the ground could not be produced during the audit and therefore unable to confirm ground safety.

“There was no-one present representing the management of the club at the audit and it was found that even with over a months notice of the audit, the club fell woefully short of the expected standard.”

Should no new S-factor be issued before Tuesday, neither the Brian Arrowsmith Stand nor the Wilkie Terrace could be used by spectators, with the safety officer's box and the press box on the Popular Side also inaccessible.

AFC believe they would still be able to populate the rest of the ground, because they are not covered and do not fall under the purview of the SAG.

“The games would still go on,” added Casson, who was flummoxed by the report there were weeds on the terracing which were described as 'potential trip hazards' to spectators in the SAG minutes. “The away fans would have the Holker Street End, the home fans would have the Holker Street End, and you have the Crossbar End either side of the Wilkie Terrace, that's not covered. But on a day where it could be 26C or 27C at kick-off, we would have the two shaded areas of the ground completely blocked off. It's so frustrating.”