The Chairman and I attended this evening’s remote FA meeting for Step 5/6 leagues.
We were hoping to hear some positive information as to a definite starting date for league matches. It seems though that whilst the most recent FA plan for how to re-start safely has been approved by the DCMS it still awaits the approval of central Government (no. 10). As a result we are still in the dark but there did seem to be some optimism that there would be a definite response by early next week at the latest and for now you should continue to regard Saturday 5 September as the date that we will start to play league matches. Fixtures (obviously provisional at this stage) are now being compiled. If we are then unable to play on the 5th, that set of fixtures will go back “in the pot” to be re-arranged at a later date If we have no positive information by 29 August, we will then make the decision to abandon Sat 5 September and so on week by week. I would hope to issue the opening batch of games sometime next week.
With fixtures generally, it seems very likely that there will be some difficulties with the possibility of some late changes. All clubs please need to accept this and look to be as co-operative as possible which I’m sure will be the case.
It was confirmed that the Extra-Preliminary Round of the FA Cup will take place on Tuesday 1 September, behind closed doors if necessary. Questions were asked about the financial side, given that there is unlikely to be any income through the gate but there was nobody present from the Competitions Department so there were no answers. The draws for the early rounds of the FA competitions are due to be publicised tomorrow and there may be some financial information to accompany the draw itself.
Our ground sharing situations present possible problems so could I please ask all clubs who ground share with clubs at higher levels to establish when the grounds will be available for our clubs to play at home in the first two weeks of September. In theory a CCL 1st Team match in the National League System should have priority over any friendly match organised by the home club but that is not a road I wish to go down. There is no need for Sheerwater nor Dorking Wanderers Reserves to respond to this request as I already have the necessary information.
We have a difficult situation regarding Jersey Bulls, with all visitors to the Island having to submit to tests upon arrival, and at this moment the Jersey Government will not allow more than 40 people at any “gathering” and that includes all the participants in the match. It is, therefore, nigh impossible for Jersey to play at home at the moment so the Board has agreed that Jersey will be allocated all away matches until October when the matter will be reviewed. Jersey are willing to play two matches over a weekend, to help keep up with league process and I would be glad if our Division One clubs could let me know if they would be willing to host Jersey on either a Friday night or more likely, on a Sunday. Matches on those days invariably attract a higher number of spectators, so please let me know if you would be willing to do this.
A question was asked about the risk assessments that every club should now have on the home page of their website, or a link that takes you directly to it. A large number of CCL clubs have not yet complied with this requirement (deadline was 15 August) so please be warned that you will not be able to play a competitive match if your risk assessment is not there.
The question of paying the match officials was another topic discussed and the FA’s strongly preferred method is for match officials to be paid by bank transfer or some other electronic means within 48 hours of the game, rather than cash. I am not sure that all our match officials will be happy with this, as it means waiting for their money and some may not be willing to hand over details of their bank accounts. Payment by cash is not disbarred but it must be in a sealed envelope if that is the chosen method. It would be sensible to establish in the week before the game how the officials in question wish to receive their money to avoid any problems on the day.
It was also stated that referees are not generally required to report any perceived shortcomings concerning Covid precautions but that if there is a blatant breach of a club’s risk assessment, it should be reported to the League. Unless it is a very serious matter, the FA would not expect any matches to be postponed “on the day”.
Whether or not we can run our normal domestic cup competitions has still to be decided. My own view is that if we start in September with matches possibly going on to the end of May, there is no reason why we cannot get them played. We shall have to wait and see though and it may be that entry will be made optional or they may have to be abandoned this season.
If the worst happens and league matches cannot start until a much later date, the FA is drawing up a scheme whereby mini leagues would be set up, followed by a group stage, similar to the European Cup. There is a clear intention that the re-structure that was due to happen this season will definitely happen in a year’s time.