Tier four restrictions force almost full shutdown of grassroots and non-elite football

Welwyn Garden City V Aldershot Town - Jack Vasey for WGC FC

Welwyn Garden City's FA Trophy match with Aldershot Town could be the last one at the level for a while. - Credit: KARYN HADDON

Grassroots football has taken a big hit following the movement to first tier three and then tier four restrictions.

Following Saturday's surprise announcement by the government, the FA released further guidance and restrictions for non-elite football, an over-arching description that covers steps non-league football below the National League South, the lower steps of the women's pyramid and indoor and outdoor grassroots football.

They said: "Further to the government’s announcement, football for adult participants across non-elite football in tier four areas is not permitted, including all training and fixtures.

"Organised outdoor sport for U18s and disabled people will be allowed.

"The government’s guidelines on travel between tiers should be adhered to. Players cannot move in or out of tier four to train or play.

"The guidance confirms that elite sportspeople, and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are U18, are able to compete and train.

"If there are any further updates from government we will communicate these in due course."

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It means Stevenage and St Albans City will be able to continue with fixtures in League Two and National League South respectively but everyone else will be put on ice again.

The Isthmian and Southern leagues had taken the decision to suspend fixtures prior to the tier four announcement.

Speaking last week they said: "[We] have unanimously agreed to continue with the pause of the season.

"Since the initial survey on December 2 the infection rate has deteriorated in the geographical footprint of our member clubs.

"In reaching this decision the board considered several factors such as the lack of income from secondary spend revenue, the reduced attendances at tier three clubs and more importantly, the duty of care the league has to players, club officials, volunteers and supporters during this current pandemic."

Neither have not set a formal restart date but both say they will give clubs at least 14 days notice, "allowing them preparation time to stage league matches".

The Spartan South Midlands League had originally planned to continue with fixtures but following Saturday's announcement they said: "The FA has confirmed that all fixtures [are] suspended until further notice."

The Herts Senior County League will also be suspended for the foreseeable future.

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