FA Update – 18th July

Following today’s update from the FA the SCEFL Board of Directors will meet this week to discuss and agree on all points arising from the latest information.

This will include:

1: League Constitution
2: Confirmation of any new Rules and Regulations.
3: AGM Date and Time.
4: Opening of Player Registration
5: Commencement of Season
6: Any League specific information regarding COVID-19.

If clubs have any additional questions that they may need further guidance on can they send through to League Secretary Andy Short by Wednesday 22nd July at 5pm so that further advice and guidance can be sought if necessary.

Regarding items 1 and 2 – we await further information from the FA and the FA National Leagues Committee.

We will update everyone as soon as we have some more solid information regarding the safe start of football in our League.

Below is the FA Statement that was released earlier today.


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 would strongly recommend 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 August – Competitive matches to begin, for example pre-season fixtures, festivals and small sided football competitions;
From 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.

James Kendall, Director of Football Development at The FA, said: “We are delighted that the Government has given the go-ahead for competitive grassroots football to return. The past few months have been some of the most challenging times not just for football, but across society, and today’s news will be welcomed by the grassroots football community all over the country.

“Now that we are able to look ahead to the new season, it’s crucial that we continue to do all we can to follow safety measures, both as advised by the government and specifically for football.

“I would encourage anyone returning to competitive grassroots football to take the time to read this guidance, prepare thoroughly and to adopt our recommended approach to phasing football back in. I would also like to thank you for playing your vital part in helping our great game to get going again.”

The full guidance documents can be downloaded below.

Non League System Update

Guidance For the Return of Non League System Football

Guidance for the Return of Grassroots Football

The League will provide a statement once it has absorbed this new information fully and will work with Clubs and local FA’s to commit to dates for the safe return of football.

Laurence Jones, Head of the Non League System, has provided this additional information.

Dear Colleagues,

We write with some important updates ahead of the 2020-21 National League System (NLS) season. As we have announced previously, The FA have been working on Scenario Planning, Club Guidance and Spectator Policy in order for the NLS to return. We are delighted that today’s announcement provide the foundation for a return to football.

Key Dates for the 2020-21 Season

Subject to further approval from DCMS and the SGSA for the safe return of spectators at National League System Grounds, we are in a position to provide the following key dates for the NLS.
Start Dates:
The following start dates are proposed for the commencement of the 2020-21 Season and conditional on Spectator Approval;
Step 1 and 2: No earlier than Saturday, 5th September 2020
Step 3 and 4: Saturday, 19th September 2020
Step 5 and 6: From Saturday, 5th September 2020*
*Discussions to take place with Step 5 and 6 Leagues to determine each Competition start date, noting The FA Cup EP Round will be held on Tuesday, 1st September2020.
End Dates:
The following end date has been approved by the Alliance and Leagues Committees and is fixed as with usual end dates for the NLS
No later than Saturday, 15th May 2021

FA Competitions:
We have always committed to do whatever possible to ensure all FA Competitions – and the accessibility of NLS Clubs in them –was a priority in our Scenario Planning. This was always conditional on when we were able to restart the NLS. September does allow for – in principle – the full inclusion of Clubs.

Key dates are as follows:
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round: Tuesday, 1st September 2020
FA Cup Preliminary Round: Saturday, 12th September 2020
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round: Tuesday, 22nd September 2020
FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round: Saturday, 19th September 2020
FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round: Saturday, 10th October 2020
FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round: Saturday, 26th September 2020
FA Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round: Saturday, 17th October 2020

Club Guidance Documents
Attached to this post are the NLS Club Guidance documents and The FA Guidance on the safe return of competitive training and matches. Both guidance documents are required to be observed by all Clubs.

The FA Guidance is the framework approved by Public Health England enabling all competitive football to return, recommended to start with training and friendlies from August. The NLS Guidance provides Clubs additional guidance to enable NLS Leagues to commence.

The NLS Guidance supplements The FA Guidance, which must be adhered to by all Clubs.

We wish to highlight some key considerations for Clubs.

COVID-19 Officer: All Clubs will need to appoint a COVID-19 Officer from their Board or Trustees. This person will have responsibility to ensure that Club Risk Assessments are completed and actions undertaken.

Risk Assessments: All Clubs will need to undertake a Risk Assessment on how they can implement appropriate measures to reduce the risk of transmission. This Risk Assessment is the tool to ensure Clubs consider all aspects of their Ground to be more secure.Clubs ground sharing must liaise with the host Club to create a Risk Assessment relevant to the standing of the Club the document is intended for.

All Clubs must publish their Risk Assessment and/or their COVID-19 Action Plans on their Club Website by Saturday, August 15th and notify their League that this has been completed.

Changing Rooms: Clubs must give particular attention to the management and operation of Changing Rooms to minimise their use or numbers within them at any one time.

Spectators: We have a specific proposal lodged with DCMS, with oversight from the Sports Ground Safety Authority, on the return of Spectators at NLS Grounds. This is yet to be approved and as such, any pre-season fixture must be, until advised
otherwise, planned to be behind closed doors.

We are aware of the announcements by the Prime Minister on Friday, 17th June regarding the return of spectators to elite sport and have requested clarity on the impact of this on our proposal.

We understand that Clubs are anxious to return, and many will have been working hard already to think of how their Club can reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. We would like to thank all Leagues and Clubs for their patience and support during this incredibly difficult period for everyone involved in the NLS.

The developments announced today give a roadmap to return and the support and collective work of Clubs and Leagues to be ready for September – subject to any change in Government policy –will be key in achieving this ambition.

Club Allocations

Club allocations for Steps 3-7 will be released to Leagues w/c Monday 20th, July.

Kind Regards,
Laurence Jones
Head of National League System

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