Newcastle Eagles have paused the purchasing of tickets for this Friday’s basketball pilot game following a rise in coronavirus cases across the North East.

In a statement to Cabinet yesterday the Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said: “The city’s alert level has been raised to amber and we are considering the need to raise it higher in order to get the current infection levels down and keep the public safe.”

The club has been in constant dialogue with council officials and have been advised to monitor the situation.

Approval was given to the Eagles Community Arena to host the UK’s only indoor sport pilot event last month in a decision to allow a limited number of fans to watch live sport.

Fierce rivals Sheffield Sharks are due at the venue for the pre-season clash ahead of the proposed resumption of the British Basketball League on October 2.

And Newcastle Eagles managing director Paul Blake said: “We fully respect and recognise that Newcastle City Council, the Government and Public Health have some difficult choices to make right now.

“The safety of our fans and the wider population is of paramount importance and we would never do anything to put that at risk.

“We were very proud to have been selected as a ‘sport pilot’ host in the first place and have been working around the clock to make the test event happen.

“We have been approved as a COVID-secure venue in line with government guidelines and that, in itself, is testimony to the hard work and commitment of the ECA team.

“It stands us in great stead for the future.

“But we always knew that circumstances beyond our control could change things and we are monitoring the situation daily.”

Newcastle made seat selection available for its season ticket holders on Sunday to give loyal supporters ample opportunity to make the necessary arrangements for Friday’s fixture.

And the club’s sales and communications manager, Dan Black, added: “This is a test event for us, our sport and other venues in every area.

“Our 2,700 seat arena is set to be limited to a capacity of around 800 with all of the COVID-secure steps we are making.

“It was great to get approval of our event plans earlier this month in a venue visit from the city’s Safety Advisory Group and we are ready to go.

“We don’t want to delay making tickets available for a fixture taking place in a matter of days but, on the other hand, we know that this is a live situation with advice and restrictions changing daily.

“I’d like to thank all of those season ticket holders who have claimed their tickets using our box office as the first stage of this overall test and what we believe is sport’s first automatically socially distanced seat map.

“We are determined to do everything we can to make Friday’s fixture happen and I’d also like to thank all our supporters, sponsors and staff, as well as our friends at Sheffield Sharks, for their help and understanding during the last few weeks.”

The club will keep fans up to date on further developments on its website and social media channels.