Published: 00:00, 18 July 2020
| Updated: 19:21, 18 July 2020
The Football Association has given the green light for competitive football to return in August - with non-league divisions following soon after.
From September grassroots league matches in the National League System, Women’s Football Pyramid tiers three to six and FA competitions can commence.
There is also an easing on restrictions regarding training. Groups can now train with up to 30 people, including coaches.
The National League system comprises the six levels of non-league football below the EFL, including the National League, the Isthmian League and the Southern Counties East Football League.
Football at step one and two level (National Leagues) will return no earlier than Saturday, September 5 while the Isthmian League will be no earlier than Saturday, September 19. The Southern Counties East League are allowed to resume from September 5.
Cup dates have also been agreed, with the FA Cup extra preliminary round scheduled for Tuesday, September 1, the FA Vase first qualifying round on Saturday, September 19 and the FA Trophy first qualifying round on Saturday, September 26.
The FA said: “We can confirm that the UK Government approved our plan for the return of outdoor competitive 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.
“We've 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.”
Competitive matches in August will comprise of pre-season fixtures, festivals and small side football competitions,.
The FA further add that: “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.”
They say that “everyone should self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms before every training session or match.”
Rigorous cleaning should take place and the FA say goal celebrations should be avoided.
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.
Clubs should keep a record of attendees at a match or training session, including contact details, to support NHS Test and Trace.
Director of Football Development at The FA, James Kendall, said: “We're 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.”
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More by this authorLuke Cawdell
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