Tony Mowbray feels torn over the decision to allow fans back into some Championship grounds from next week, weighing up the positive step forward against the possible integrity issues it raises.

The Government announcement will mean that nine clubs in the Championship that fall under tier two restrictions will be able to welcome 2,000 fans back into games from December 2.

They include Brentford, who Rovers travel to next weekend, though games at Ewood, and the other 16 clubs which are under tier three restrictions, will continue to be played behind closed doors.

Mowbray questions whether that will provide an unfair advantage for sides who are allowed to welcome back fans, and believes that football should be ‘trusted’ to carry out the necessary requirements needed to facilitate the return of supporters, rather than it be based upon the Government’s tiering system.

The decision to place Blackburn with Darwen, and the rest of Lancashire, into tier three didn’t come as a surprise to Mowbray, or anyone at the club.  

“As a professional, I’m not sure about the integrity of the league moving forward,” he explained.

“I’ve talked well before the initial lockdown in March about the power of fans inside a stadium where they can almost suck the ball into the back of the net and drive their team.

“On our best days, Ewood Park can be like that as well, it feels like the old cliché of the 12th man.

“There’s a lot of power in an emotional supportive fanbase.

“While you might not get to that, just to have some supporters inside there’s possible an integrity of the competition debate to be had.

“But to even mention it I’m not sure it’s right because we are screaming out to get fans back in stadiums and then when the Government allows some fans back into stadiums everyone starts moaning about an integrity situation.

“As a personal preference I would like for everyone to get football fans back in a certain number to make it a level playing field.”

The tiering system will be reviewed in two weeks’ time, with all of Rovers’ away matches before the end of 2020 coming in tier three areas.

Clubs have invested heavily in ensuring their stadia meet the necessary requirements to host matches during the ongoing pandemic, and Mowbray added: “The amount of work that goes in behind the scenes at every ground we’ve been to, whatever tier it is, is amazing really.

“In my opinion football should be trusted to manage its own environment around matchdays.

“That’s not going to be the case. I find it a bit strange that some clubs are going to have supporters and some teams are not, but I understand that football can’t scream about getting fans back in and then say they don’t want it unless there’s an equilibrium about it.

“We’ll just get on with it. We’ll play at some stadiums away from home with some supporters behind their team and when teams come to Ewood it’ll be as quiet as it has been.”

Rovers have actually picked up more points away from home than at Ewood this season, and Mowbray says only time will tell the impact it will have.

He added: “Let’s wait and see how it pans out and we’ll know better in a few months and hopefully by then supporters will be allowed back at Ewood and they’ll be increasing the numbers from 2,000 and 4,000 to a percentage of a stadium’s capacity and start to get back to where we want to be.”