Chris Beech says it is “vital” for fans to return to football grounds but admits the spread of Covid-19 -which is now affecting a member of his family – must continue to be taken seriously.

The Carlisle United boss said his nephew has tested positive for the virus.

There is no suggestion Beech has been in proximity to his nephew, but the United head coach said the fact it is now so close to home is a reminder about the way the coronavirus continues to impact on lives.

It comes at a time a petition has amassed thousands of signatures calling on the Government to allow fans back into stadiums in order to provide a financial lifeline to clubs.

The EFL this week added their name to a letter assuring fans they were doing all they can to find safe ways for supporters to return.

Beech said: “One hundred per cent, of course we want to share the game with everybody and we want people in the stadium.

“I just find it difficult personally to understand at the moment, because it looks like we’re heading towards more sanctions in terms of how we live our private lives. It’s at the opposite end now of perhaps being available to open that to supporters.

“I think there’s a lot of misunderstandings at the moment in terms of where you live and what you’re meant to do.

“I do know that coronavirus is about us more. It’s getting nearer me personally, somebody in my family – not my [immediate] family, but my nephew’s got it. He’s caught it from school.

“That’s the first time for me in all this period that it’s getting closer to me

“So it must be around everywhere more, the R rates are going up.

“I one hundred per cent want supporters to be back, but I also want us to have a game in the future because I want us to look after each other.”

Beech said the virus is continuing to influence how United have to deal with certain situations.

He added: “We’ve had conversations about protecting the squad from social things the lads get up to, in terms of the virus, and we’ve even had to have conversations about lads on loan at Kendal.

“They’re mixing with other people and there are fans in the stadiums at their games, so we have to look at things like where they get changed and showered when they come back to us.

“All of that is a little bit weird. [Assistant boss] Gav Skelton went to watch their game and there was over 400 people there…it’s just very strange.”

Beech also believes the absence of fans from games both at the top level and in United’s division is having a certain effect on the matches themselves.

He added: “I do believe last weekend’s Premier League results [such as Man Utd losing 6-1 to Spurs and Liverpool losing 7-2 at Aston Villa] don’t happen if crowds are in the stadiums.

“I know it shouldn’t be that way, and it’s dead easy to say to the top guys get paid so much money, they shouldn’t do that. But there’s no way a crowd would accept that.

“Let’s be right, if there was 10,000 people here last Saturday, 100 per cent that tackle on JJ [Kayode in the second half by Barrow's Patrick Brough]…crowds don’t need to be here to see that was a sending off, but when it’s supported with a massive, ‘what are you doing referee, sort it out’, he’s off straight away.

“It does affect games and response in games. I’ve said this when we’ve gone behind in league fixtures. The best way of protecting that is to score first in the current circumstances.”