The biggest beer garden in Barrow is being set up at one of the town’s major sports clubs.

For almost three months, the Craven Park stadium, home of rugby league side Barrow Raiders, has laid dormant because of the coronavirus pandemic bringing a halt to the season.

That has brought a tremendous financial strain on the Raiders, and they are now planning on opening up their ground as a huge, socially-distanced outside bar, which will include table service to avoid crowding.

It is hoped as many as 500 people will be able go on to the pitch for what will act as a means of welcoming back their loyal supporters, raising morale after such a difficult time and bringing in some much-needed funding to the club.

Chairman Steve Neale (inset) said: “Obviously, we’re going through a bad time financially, in terms of the last three or four months.

“We’ve had no matchday income and our sponsors are suffering, so we’re going to have a lot of shortfalls in our income budget and this is an opportunity to make it up.

“Maybe we’ll do this over a series of weekends, especially if we’re not yet playing rugby.”

Planning is still at an early stage, but the club are in the process of ordering picnic tables that will be organised a safe distance away from each other on the pitch, where punters will also be able to lay out their own blankets.

All this is subject to the Government’s strategy for easing the lockdown, which is currently targeting opening up pubs and bars on Saturday, July 4.

Should everything go as scheduled, that will be when the Raiders will open their gates for the first time for any event since March, with it being hoped as much as £10,000 will come into the bank on the opening night.

The plan is for two bars to be in use, with a queuing system set up for the outside bar on the Popular Side of the stadium and table service to be organised from the indoor Raiders Bar.

Barrow councillor Bill McEwan has thrown his support behind the idea.

He said: “You’ve got a large area where people can keep their distancing, they can space about and if it’s policed correctly I think it’s a wonderful idea once they get the go-ahead for pubs and clubs to open.

“People can’t wait to get the pubs and clubs open, but it’s about them abiding by the law and keeping their distance and I think it’s a great idea to open up a big venue like that.

“It’ll bring some money back into the club - I’m behind it, 100 per cent.”