Grassroots football free to return to competition from September says FA and government
PUBLISHED: 10:23 20 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:23 20 July 2020
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Non-league and grassroots football can start competitive fixtures in September – although there is still plenty of work required before leagues restart.
The FA’s plan for a return to outdoor matches was approved by the government late on Friday night.
Full training can commence for groups up to 30 people, a number which includes coaches, and from August there can be pre-season fixtures, festivals and small-sided competitions.
League and cup fixtures for non-league and the women’s game between tiers three and six are free to get going from September 5 for the National League and Spartan South Midlands League and September 19 for the Isthmian and Southern championships.
There are plenty of provisos and guidelines that must be adhered to include regular hygiene breaks, ball handling kept to a minimum and an attendance list of players and officials kept for test and trace purposes.
They even stress that “goal celebrations should be avoided”.
The sticking point for some will come in the size of the crowd allowed.
In the specific documentation for clubs in the National League System, it says that gatherings of more than 30 people are not permitted “at this time for any matches or training”.
It goes on to say that they are working with the government to “understand the timescale for the return to spectators at sporting events.
“Initial discussions have identified that it will be difficult to return to competitive matches without the ability to welcome some form of spectators to matches.”
But clubs are still being asked to formulate a plan for the eventual return of fans, even if that is at a reduced capacity, and the FA are themselves pleased that football has been given the green light to come back.
Their director of football development, James Kendall, said: “We’re delighted that the government has given the go-ahead for competitive grassroots football to return. The past few months have been some of the most challenging times not just for football, but across society, and today’s news will be welcomed by the grassroots football community all over the country.
“Now that we are able to look ahead to the new season, it’s crucial that we continue to do all we can to follow safety measures, both as advised by the government and specifically for football.
“I would encourage anyone returning to competitive grassroots football to take the time to read this guidance, prepare thoroughly and to adopt our recommended approach to phasing football back in.
“I would also like to thank you for playing your vital part in helping our great game to get going again.”
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