CITY’S hopes of having fans back at Valley Parade next month have been put on hold.

Sports had been planning towards a gradual return of limited crowds from October 1.

But government minister Michael Gove this morning confirmed that the idea has been “paused” because of the spike in COVID-19 cases.

City’s game at Forest Green last weekend was one of seven test events where supporters were permitted. Home season-ticket holders watched from the stands again while obeying social-distancing.

The Bantams had pencilled in the televised encounter with Harrogate on October 12 as a possibility for seeing some fans back at Valley Parade once again. But now that is not going to happen.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Gove said: “It was the case that we were looking at a staged programme of more people returning.

“It wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadia thronged with fans. We are looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme.

“But what we do want to do is make sure that as and when the circumstances allow, we get more people back because the virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors.

“It is in the nature of major sporting events that there is a lot of mingling and people look back at the start of the pandemic and some of the major sporting events that happened then and ask the question, ‘why were they allowed to go ahead?’ “One of the things we have to do now, whatever the wisdom of the decisions made then, is to look at sporting events now with caution.

“But of course, we also recognise that sport is a vital part of the life of this nation and we are looking at everything we can do to support our athletes and our great clubs, through what will be a challenging time.”

The government is coming under pressure to provide a financial lifeline to lower-league and grassroots clubs.

A letter signed by more than 100 organisations warned prime minister Boris Johnson that there could be a “lost generation of sport and activity” without intervention.