I hope that you are all safe and well.
Since my last update there have been a number of developments with the current situation continuing to move at pace. The latest relaxation of the Government restrictions that came into effect on the 1st of June now allows for up to six people to meet outside of the home and the Football Association has had to work quickly to issue guidelines for the game in response to this.
Whilst welcoming the government’s relaxation to allow some form of football activity, we recognise that the nation is still managing this situation and our priority remains to protect the health of our members, volunteers and staff to continue to suppress the spread of Covid-19. Our actions now could ultimately have an impact on how soon we can return to some form of normality with a phased return to the game.
For those of us who love and miss the game the return of the Premier League on the 17th of June I’m sure will be welcomed and will provide optimism for a return for us as well, but to be clear the latest guidance issued by the Football Association is not a return of the grassroots game. At this point there is no further news on when the grassroots game will return and the guidelines are not intended to encourage mass club training sessions and indeed, any kind of activity should only be arranged if it is safe and appropriate to do so.
As outlined in the FA statement, the option to partake in permittable football activity is a personal choice and whilst there are those who will want to return to football activity as soon as possible, there will be those with genuine concerns or personal circumstances that make this difficult. The overriding consideration has to be the safety and wellbeing of all in attendance and if this cannot be guaranteed or have any doubts then we would strongly advise you to err on the side of caution when making a decision. The FA will shortly be issuing advice for facility providers, coaches, safeguarding officers and players which, when available, can be found on our website here along with additional details to help answer any questions you may have at this time. We would urge you to read this guidance before making any further arrangements.
Many of you have contacted us in regard to affiliation / membership for the 2020-2021 season. Firstly I would like to advise you that due to the current circumstances we have arranged for those of you who took out either Public Liability or Personal Accident Insurance with Sportsguard in the 2019 -2020 season that your cover remains valid up until the 1st of July 2020. We have continued to monitor the situation and consulted with key stakeholders in regard to membership. Our stance has been that until we know when the new season will start and how it will look, then we do not think it will be appropriate to add pressure on members, particularly as cash flow will be an issue at the moment. We have our members' best interest at heart and as such we are putting together a ‘return to football’ package but until we know the full financial impact of Covid-19 on the local game we will not be in a position to release further detail. We have a commitment to provide an appropriate service to our members which you have become accustomed to over the last couple of years and it is a key priority to ensure that this is maintained, particularly to assist in a return to the game.
That said, we have listened to our members who have told us that it would be helpful to allow a ‘soft’ opening of the membership window so that they can begin the administration process and I can confirm this will be available from the 15th of June 2020. It is important to state that we will not be requesting payment and clubs will not receive an affiliation number until there is more detail about how the new season will look. We will invoice for costs at a later date enabling clubs to get back onto their feet following this significant period of downtime.
It’s sometimes difficult to remember what point we are at in the season due to the current situation and I think that it would be remiss of me not to mention the work of our grounds staff at this time of the year. We have moved from a period of continuous rain during the winter to a sustained period of dry weather and whilst this has been welcomed by most of us during lockdown, this has not assisted our grounds staff in their preparation work. June is traditionally the close season and this aligns to the seasonal weather we are used to. This is a period when pitches are being renovated in preparation for the new season with new grass starting to grow. This is specialist work that takes time and costs money and is no different this season. Whilst we are all keen to get back out and partake in whatever format is permitted, we need to remember that the work carried out on the pitches now will affect their condition for the duration of the season when this is decided.
Finally, we are all keen to get back up and running and we will do so as soon as this is permittable within the Government restrictions and above all, safe to do so. Please adhere to Government Restrictions, FA guidance and stay safe, the game will be back but we need to remain patient.