As the clubs, coaches, players and match officials prepare for a long-awaited return to playing the game we all love, we share in their enthusiasm for a game that is much missed at a grassroots level.
However, in the midst of this excitement, we must remember that The FA guidance remains in place that no football should be taking place at this time and up to the 29th March at the earliest, with this being the earliest date that the Prime Minister indicated grassroots sport could return.
The details of this return do remain subject to the talks that are ongoing between The FA and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) at this time. Since a provisional date for a return was announced by Boris Johnson as he shared his “roadmap” out of lockdown, we have shared in the excitement that has been felt across the county, capital and wider country.
We know that this excitement has led clubs and organisations to begin planning their return to training, matches and also the first steps towards potential tournaments and festivals from Easter through to the preseason of the 2021/22 season.
We are fully aware of the financial, footballing, and health (both mental & physical) benefits of these events, sessions, or groups, but until the guidance of how this return will look is released, we encourage clubs and organisations operating within Middlesex to evaluate the need to rush back on 29th March.
Our advice would be to all those who have planned soccer schools, training sessions, friendlies or festivals for the first weeks back to strongly reconsider this until they, like us, have received the guidance from The FA & DCMS, digested any limitations or rulings around gatherings and the structure of groups within a football environment as this could heavily impact on your ability to deliver what you may be looking to plan.
We remain of the firm opinion that we have a wider social responsibility beyond football to play our part in the minimisation or even eradication of Covid-19.
We would remind all clubs and potential organisers that there is a prescribed process to follow in arranging a festival and in turn having it sanctioned by the County FA. We would also point out that even if the FA guidance allows such events to take place, they would still be subject to any additional conditions that may be put into effect by local authorities or site operators.
We will make a further statement once the FA guidance is published and will strive to ensure our position is aligned with that of our neighbouring County FAs.