18 Jul 2020 in News
The Football Association has confirmed that their plan for the return of outdoor competitive grassroots football has been approved by the UK Government.
As a result, the grassroots football community including the National League System (NLS) now has the opportunity to return to football and prepare for the start of the new season using guidance published on Saturday by English football's governing body to mitigate the transmission risk of COVID-19.
The FA strongly recommends a phased return to competitive football, with no fixtures taking place before the end of July. During this time competitive training can occur, with groups limited to 30 people including coaches. Non-competitive matches, including pre-season friendlies (behind closed doors until the return of spectators at NLS Grounds is approved), can begin from Saturday, August 1st.
The FA and the Leagues are aiming for a September start of competitive matches in the NLS; however, this is subject to change in accordance with Government guidance and approval for the return of spectators. NLS and FA Competition fixtures are proposed to commence on:
• NLS Steps 1 & 2: No earlier than Saturday, 5th September 2020
• NLS Steps 3 & 4: Saturday, 19th September 2020
• NLS Steps 5 & 6: From Saturday 5th September 2020
• 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
The end date for the NLS season is fixed at no later than Saturday, 15th May 2021.
The EBAC Northern Football League's two divisions are at Steps 4 & 5 of the NLS pyramid.
All clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents/carers, spectators and football facility providers are advised to read the FA's full guidelines in addition to the latest UK Government guidance on COVID-19.
Clubs like ours will be required to complete the necessary risk assessments and comprehensive action plans for all aspects of the NLS guidance as soon as possible to ensure that Leagues are able to start against the proposed timetables.
For more details and other useful resources from The FA, click here.
A summary of the FA's COVID-19 guidelines (click to enlarge):