Ahead of competitive football returning next month, please find below updates from our CEO Adam Evans with regards to Membership Fees and County Cups.
• No Staffordshire FA Membership Fees for the 2020/21 Season
to support clubs with the financial challenges presented by Covid-19.
• Reduced fees from insurance provider Sportsguard for the 202/21 Season
in response to the 2019/20 season being brought to a premature end.
• No County Cup Competitions for the 2020/21 Season
to alleviate pressure on league fixture planning, and to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 across the County.
Firstly, I hope that you and your families are safe and well as we navigate our way through this difficult period and attempt to return to some form of normality. As always, our thoughts go out to those members of the football family who have been adversely affected by Covid-19.
The return of grassroots football has undoubtedly come as welcome news across the game, albeit with the significant challenges brought about by the impact of Covid-19, which we are all collectively working hard to address in order for the grassroots game to safely resume.
The return of grassroots football permits leagues to begin their campaigns from the beginning of September, with many leagues targeting the second weekend in September as their chosen start date; however, there are exceptions to this with some leagues not starting until October or possibly beyond.
With the majority of clubs across Staffordshire having now completed their membership with the County FA – and taking into account the past, present and future challenges faced by clubs and leagues – the Board of Directors at Staffordshire FA have now made decisions on two areas of the game which impact clubs and leagues; Membership Fees and County Cups.
Please find below some additional details and rationale behind the decisions made, taking into account the challenges faced and with the aim of providing additional support to our member clubs and leagues during these unique times we find ourselves in.
Staffordshire FA Membership Fees
Since the start of the pandemic we have been acutely aware of the financial impact on grassroots football, which will undoubtedly continue to present challenges over the coming weeks, months and years. The County FA are not immune to the financial impact of Covid-19 and the Board of Directors have made, and continue to make, decisions to try and minimise the impact of Covid-19 and safeguard the future of the grassroots game in Staffordshire.
We are very conscious of the significant financial challenges faced by our member clubs, and I am pleased to report that we are now able to alleviate a little bit of that financial burden by removing the Staffordshire FA membership fees for the 2020/21 Season. We hope that this news will be welcomed by our member clubs as we all look ahead to the 2020/21 Season getting underway.
For the 2020/21 Season, the Staffordshire FA membership fees have been removed and the only fees that member clubs will pay is their public liability insurance and personal accident insurance, which is provided by our insurance providers Sportsguard. The insurance provider has also taken into account the premature end to the 2019/20 Season and have discounted their insurance fees for the 2020/21 on a pro-rata basis.
As mentioned previously, the County FA are unfortunately not immune to the financial impact of Covid-19 and we are grateful to The Football Association and Sport England for their support which has allowed us to take this action. But I can reassure our members that we will continue to provide the best service possible during these challenges times and we thank you for your ongoing support.
Staffordshire FA County Cups
As we continue to work closely with all leagues across the county, planning fixtures and competitions accordingly, and all hoping for no more disruptions or lockdowns, one of the key areas we have had to review is the potential impact of the County Cup competitions – both on league fixture planning, and also the potential impact of spreading the virus across the County.
The Board of Directors have had to consider various internal factors on these fronts, in addition to other external factors beyond our control, and we have made the difficult decision to not run any County Cup competitions during the 2020/21 Season.
Needless to say this has not been an easy decision to make and we appreciate that it will come as disappointing news to many people, not least ourselves; but hopefully we can provide a bit of rationale behind the decision made in these unprecedented times we find ourselves in.
Factors taken into consideration:
- Each of the respective leagues that our member clubs play in – which is a combination of County leagues and external leagues – will have their own individual challenges with regards to ensuring that their league fixtures can be completed this season, particularly if the 2020/21 Season is impacted again by Covid-19.
- Whilst most leagues are planning to kick-off in September, this is not the case across the board, with some leagues planning to kick-off in October, or possibly later.
- Entries into the competitions are usually administered in June/July, based on the league constitutions and cross-referencing with affiliation data. Due to the current situation this process has not yet taken place.
- The FA have requested that clubs in steps 1-6 of the National League System be granted dispensation not to play in the County Cup competitions this season and to allow them to concentrate on ensuring that all league campaigns are completed.
- We are currently at a point in the pandemic where the infection rate seems to be levelling off to a point nationally, however, as we have seen in some areas across the country, local lockdown presents a real threat to the game. Any type of lockdown would leave us with insufficient time to complete competitions, particularly as September is now out of the question.
- Staffordshire is a ‘long’ County in geographical terms, with the potential for teams to travel over 50 miles from one end of the County to the other. As we are all quite rightly being asked to do our bit with regards to reducing the spread of the virus, asking large groups of people to travel many miles to different parts of the County and potentially increase the risk of spreading the virus, would undoubtedly sit uncomfortably with many people, including ourselves.
- In addition to all the above, we also have no idea what impact the colder winter months will have on both the virus infection and death rates.
We feel that it is important that leagues concentrate on a return to the game locally, and with most, if not all, leagues amending their traditional playing seasons and looking at a home and away season, there will be little room for error when it comes to successfully completing fixtures. It is sometimes easy to forget, but the weather hit us hard pre-lockdown and some leagues would have struggled to complete the 2019/20 season. If there is a repeat of that inclement weather, it will undoubtedly put further significant pressures on league administrators.
We hope that the above rationale offers some insight into the difficult decision made with regards to our County Cup competitions.
We sincerely hope that the 2020/21 Season runs as smoothly and successfully as possible for all our member clubs and leagues – hopefully with minimal disruptions caused by Covid-19 or the weather – and we look forward to reintroducing the County Cup competitions again in the 2021/22 Season.
May I take this opportunity to thank all our member clubs and leagues for your patience and support in recent months, as we have all had to adapt to the unique challenges faced. On behalf of myself, the Board of Directors and everyone at Staffordshire FA – we wish you all the very best for the 2020/21 Season as we look forward to the return of grassroots football.