The board of directors met on Thursday night to discuss the planned restart of matches, which was scheduled for December 26 onwards.
Our previous decision to suspend matches was based solely on the safety of the league’s players and officials, match officials, volunteers and spectators. This criteria continued to be at the forefront of our minds throughout the discussions we had, and will be our priority going forward.
That said, we are determined to complete the 2020/21 season and will do everything we can, as safely as we can, to ensure this is the case. We know that is the wish of our teams and we are sure it is the wish of other leagues around the country in the non-league pyramid system.
Since our previous decision, Covid-19 case numbers in Kent and the South East have continued to rise and all but one of our teams are now placed in Tier 3.
The board had the benefit of club views to consider as well, and we thank each and every one of our clubs who took the time to respond.
We have made the following decisions as a result of the above points.
All league matches scheduled for the period December 26 to January 6 are postponed.
At a time when households can mix over the festive period, we felt it was not wise to encourage further mixing by having players and spectators at matches during a time when the risk of infection spreading is increased even more than usual.
It was agreed that the Southern Counties East League will recommence on Saturday, January 16. This will be reviewed on Monday, January 4 by the board of directors but we are hopeful that games can restart from this date.
The league is aiming to end the season on May 15 for Premier Division clubs and May 8 for Division 1 clubs. This will be reviewed as the season progresses, dependent on further lockdowns and extreme bad weather.
The board of directors again recognised the lengths that our member clubs have gone to in order to make their grounds Covid-secure. In addition to this, the board has agreed that face coverings will be mandatory for spectators at all Southern Counties East League games until further notice. After consultation with clubs, this will extend to technical area occupants. Further details will be sent to clubs in the new year by the league secretary.
The league wants to make our grounds as safe as we possibly can. We all need to work together to ensure we can return to the game in a safe and responsible manner.
Finally, the board of directors would like to wish everyone involved in the league, in whatever capacity, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for your patience and support. Please stay safe and follow the guidelines, and hopefully we can get back to playing and watching games again next month.