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FA Update on COVID 19 and Football

The FA has provided an update for ‘non-elite’ football in England following the UK Government’s announcement of a second national lockdown.

Updated: 6 November @ 15:30

The Football Association [The FA] has provided an update for ‘non-elite’ football in England following the UK Government’s announcement on new national Covid-19 restrictions that will be in place from Thursday 5 November 2020 until Wednesday 2 December 2020.

As a result of the UK Government’s new national Covid-19 restrictions, and subject to Members of Parliament voting today [Wednesday 4 November 2020] and the publication of bespoke guidance from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport [DCMS], the impact on ‘non elite’ football in England will include the suspension of the following during this period:

  • All fixtures and training for Steps 3-6 of the National League System [NLS];
  • All fixtures and training for Tiers 3-7 of the Women’s Football Pyramid [WFP];
  • All fixtures and training for the Regional NLS Feeder Leagues;
  • All fixtures and training for The Barclays FA WSL Academy League;
  • All fixtures and training for FA Girls Regional Talent Clubs;
  • All fixtures and training for indoor and outdoor youth and adult grassroots football.

The FA’s aim is to ensure that the 2020/21 season is completed at these levels and will liaise with the relevant leagues in the NLS and WFP and the County Football Associations [CFAs] to provide support and establish appropriate options to do so if required.

The UK Government’s new national Covid-19 restrictions permit ‘school sport’ to continue as an exemption during this period and its Department for Education [DfE] has provided bespoke guidance to further outline their impact on education. As a result, The FA can confirm the following for school, further and higher education football activities during this period: · All school and further education college football activities are required to follow The FA’s latest guidance on indoor and outdoor grassroots football;

  • Where schools are offering extra-curricular football activities, such as pre and after-school clubs, they should only do so in a school setting during the school day where it is reasonably necessary to support parents to work, search for work, or undertake training or education, or where the provision is being used for the purposes of respite care;
  • All schools and further education colleges can work with external coaches, clubs and organisations for their football activities where they are satisfied that it is safe to do so;
  • All schools and further education colleges can also use external facilities for their football activities in line with the DfE’s guidance for the use of, and travel to and from, them;
  • All football fixtures or competitions between different schools and further education colleges are to be suspended;
  • All Universities should follow the DfE’s guidance for higher education which provides further information on sports training and teaching.

In addition, the UK Government has confirmed that ‘elite’ football academies can continue during this period and has specified the following:

  • Aged 15 and above within the ‘elite’ sport exemption;
  • Other age groups if in an overarching education setting i.e. full-time educational provision, or blended training and education provision;
  • Ofsted FA/PL/EFL recognised: Category 1 and Category 2 academies.

As a result, fixtures in the First and Second Round Proper of the 2020/21 FA Youth Cup involving two ‘elite’ clubs during this period can continue to be played under the relevant ‘elite’ club protocol. However, any fixtures involving one ‘non-elite’ club should not be scheduled during this period.

The FA can also confirm that the Barclays FA WSL Academies and FA Girls Regional Talent Clubs are to be suspended during this period as their resources – including finances and personnel – do not meet the necessary ‘elite’ protocols required and a number of their facilities are now closed due to the UK Government’s new national Covid-19 restrictions. Academy players within the Barclays FA Women’s Super League can continue training within either an education setting or blended training and education provision.

In addition, the UK Government has confirmed that all Emirates FA Cup First Round fixtures will go ahead as planned this weekend between Friday 6 and Monday 9 November 2020. The ten ‘non-elite’ clubs that remain in the competition will be able to play their fixtures under ‘elite’ protocols. In line with the new national Covid-19 restrictions, these ‘non-elite’ teams are only permitted to train together until Wednesday 4 November 2020.

Re-starting football at these levels has taken substantial determination and commitment from stakeholders across the game and we would like to thank everyone for their vital contributions. However, health and wellbeing remain the priority, so it is extremely important that clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents, carers and facility providers adhere to the UK Government’s new national Covid-19 restrictions during this period.

The FA remains in dialogue with the DCMS, leagues, competitions and CFAs and will provide further clarification for ‘non-elite’ football in England following the debate in the House of Commons today.