The key question everyone is asking is when will the league start – not before the 5th September, but that may not be possible. This statement was prepared before the government announcement of 9:30PM on 30/7/20 of Greater Manchester restrictions for which we will issue further instruction when we can.
Following the FA announcement of 18th July, and the L & C notes on distribution of that FA and Government material on the 20th July, there are now more detailed instructions from the league following the special committee meeting of the 23rd July. The league broke the information down into different topics.
Currently, grounds may only open their pitches, dressing rooms remain closed, and the advice is to arrive changed. There is no information as to when council pitches will be open. It was agreed that the league fixtures would not start without dressing rooms, toilets and showers being open. When they are open, they may have a social distancing regime, restricting numbers at any one time. Please see the Return to Football – Grounds 30-7-20 from Graham Ellis which gives more detail, and links to FA and Government documents.
Allowed from the beginning of August, the league strongly advises clubs not to proceed with friendlies unless full precautions, Covid-19 officer and risk assessments are in place, as friendlies have all the dangers of a full competitive match. We also strongly advise ensuring a referee is appointed and is made aware of the full safety arrangements.
- Club Covid19 officer
This is the key role which every club must appoint and name to the league. Keith Marsden has compiled the communication COVID-19 Officer statement 270720. It must be a responsibility of this officer to put a risk assessment process in place, and record a full contact list of all those who are present at training or matches, and to provide this to the relevant authorities.
- Risk assessment
Risk assessment is to be carried out before each training activity or match. The FA template is 22 pages long and was not focussed specifically on Covid-19. The league saw this as a problem, that clubs would feel they had to write their own, and there have been some excellent plans sent to us, for which we are grateful and thank the clubs who have helped us shape and populate the spreadsheet. We have developed a risk assessment League Risk Assessment – 30-07-20 which will provide a standard approach. Tim Roebuck and Brian Davies have worked on this.
- Equipment There are many constraints around handling of equipment, and the FA guidance issued relies upon individual players keeping their own kit. This does/can not happen in open-age football in the case of kit, as kit would be lost. The team is not the same week to week. There must be cleaning materials provided, a cleaning regime and team assigned to do it under the control of the Covid-19 officer. Handling of match sheets has been raised by club as a source of contamination, and further details will be issued before match sheets come into use.
- Referees Stephen Howard has received communication yesterday from the FA to referees with guidance and instructions, which are being reviewed. Many referees are asking for games, and Steve is being asked for referees for friendlies. We feel that Steve should only help with appointments if it is clear that adequate precautions are in place so that it is safe to play before a match starts. Payment by cash has been raised as an issue, Stephen Howard has a solution to this, on the Wednesday confirmation call, the ref gives their bank details and how much the fee is, the club then pay direct into the bank.
- Insurance Reckless acts are an exclusion, so going into a match unprepared could be deemed reckless, and public liability insurance would be invalid.
- First Aid
First aiders and other officials on the touchline will need adequate protection equipment eg face masks, and this and first aid kits will need to be checked before a match goes ahead. Mouth to mouth resuscitation is now not recommended. We have had serious health issues in this league so this must be resolved.
- Further notes
- Travelling to matches will have to be within government guidelines.
- The implications of a player/referee receiving a positive test for Covid 19 following a game, could see both teams being required to isolate for 14 days.
- In an excellent initiative, Gill Bowden has purchased a temperature scanner (approx. £40) with which she will check all participants. We recommend every club Covid-19 officer has one. We will issue further information soon on this, and are looking into whether any funding is available.
- We are mindful that there will be a risk to clubs of loss of players if we start later than other leagues, and similarly we will lose referees.
- There is a limit of 30 people allowed to be present, this will be exceeded, what is the FA position?
- For further guidance and support visit MFA Covid-19 page
We would like to thank all clubs for their co-operation and assistance over this difficult period for amateur football, and are also mindful of the tragic consequences this pandemic has had on society.
Lancashire and Cheshire AFL