20 July 2020
The FA issues guidelines for the return of outdoor competitive grassroots football
The FA can confirm that the UK Government approved its plan for the return of outdoor grassroots football late last night, Friday 17 July 2020.
As a result, the grassroots football community now has the opportunity to return to football and prepare for the start of the new season.
The FA has been working hard over recent weeks to prepare guidelines for the safe return of grassroots football and, following Government approval, these can now be published.
Football activity can take place with necessary modifications in place to mitigate the transmission risk of COVID-19.
The FA have recommended a phased return to competitive football activity as follows:
- Until 31 July – When ready, you can begin competitive training, with the overall group size (inclusive of coaches) being limited to 30 people;
- From 1 August – Competitive matches to begin, for example pre-season fixtures, festivals and small sided football competitions;
- From 1 September – Grassroots leagues, men’s National League System, Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6, and FA Competitions can commence.
Clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents/carers, spectators and football facility providers should read The FA’s full guidelines, which are accessible below, in addition to the latest Government guidance on COVID-19.
A return to competitive football should only happen once clubs and facility providers have completed the necessary risk assessments and comprehensive plans are in place.
A summary of key points to consider from The FA’s guidelines are listed for ease below:
- Everyone should self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms before every training session or match. If you are symptomatic or living in a household with possible or actual COVID-19 infection you must not participate or attend;
- Clubs and facility providers should ensure that their facility is compliant with current Government legislation and guidance related to COVID-19;
- Competitive training is now permitted, with groups limited to a maximum of 30 people, including coaches;
- Competitive match play is permitted, with social distancing in place before and after the match, and in any breaks in play;
- Players and officials should sanitise hands before and after a game as well as scheduled breaks throughout a game or training session;
- Ball handling should be kept to a minimum with most contact via a boot and the ball disinfected in breaks of play;
- Youth football coaches are encouraged to limit persistent close proximity of participants during match play and training;
- Goal celebrations should be avoided;
- Equipment should not be shared, and goalkeepers should ensure they disinfect their gloves regularly in breaks in training or matches and thoroughly afterwards. Where possible, coaches should only handle equipment in training;
- Where possible, players, coaches and officials should arrive changed and shower at home. Use of changing and shower facilities must follow government advice on the use of indoor facilities;
- Participants should follow best practice for travel including minimising use of public transport and walking or cycling if possible. People from a household or support bubble can travel together in a vehicle
- Clubs should keep a record of attendees at a match or training session, including contact details, to support NHS Test and Trace;
- Clubs should ensure they are affiliated with their County Football Association.
Separate guidance has been developed for clubs with teams competing in the men’s National League System (NLS) and the Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6. This will support these Clubs on the safe return of paying spectators and also the applicability of the guidance to facilities under Ground Grading conditions, to ensure the safe return of competitive matches.
Please note that at this stage, indoor football and futsal is not permitted. The FA will look to work with indoor facility providers to develop appropriate guidance for indoor formats as soon as possible.
The Staffordshire County Senior League have already done initial planning in readiness for a restart and will let member clubs know when our season will start as soon as possible. In the meantime, all clubs should ensure that their facilities meet the COVID-19 guidelines.
I am sure these are very demanding times for club funds and fund raising. I heard of a grant Local Authorities are giving to leisure facilities. I know of a couple of clubs in our league who have applied and received payment. I just thought that as a league we should make all our member clubs aware of this grant. I understand that not all clubs can apply, but it can help some I feel this is a great result.
These are the links via each Local Authorities pages.
Walsall Borough Council – https://go.walsall.gov.uk/covid-19_information/covid-19_-_i_need_help_businesses
South Staffordshire Council – https://www.sstaffs.gov.uk/local-businesses/coronavirus-apply-for-business-grant.cfm
South Derbyshire District Council – https://www.southderbyshire.gov.uk/covid-19/covid-19-guidance
If I have missed a LA relating to a club, I apologise. Not all clubs are eligible, but if you do not ask you do not get.