The League will be resuming matches on Saturday 5 December with as full a programme as possible.
The fixtures can be viewed on the website, including seven FA Vase ties over the weekend, involving eight of our clubs. Good luck to all of them. We are guaranteed at least one club in the 3rd Round, SCR and Southall having been drawn against each other. That match is taking place on Sunday (3.00 p.m.) as is the delayed 1st Round tie between Stansfield and AFC Hayes (also 3.00 p.m.). All the others are on Saturday.
The Step 5 leagues were effectively given a free reign by the FA to manage matters as best they could. Every club in the CCL is within Tier 2, which means that whilst paying spectators can be admitted, club bars cannot open. There is a question mark over tea bars and take away and clubs are advised to consult with their local authorities if they are in any doubt. We are aware that two Councils have given approval for tea bars and the like to open so maybe that will be the general approach from local authorities.
The CCL advised clubs last week that the Board were keen for matches to resume on 5 December, as was the FA, but that any club who felt that the financial burden was too great could opt out of playing home matches for the whole of December. The situation will then be reviewed on a monthly basis and clubs will be able to make a different decision in January based upon their circumstances and upon any changes to the Government’s present draconian restrictions upon licensed premises.
The rationale behind the Board’s decision was that, whilst it is impossible to avoid some expenditure, it is patently more expensive to play at home with match officials’ fees, cost of floodlights and the general use of water/electricity and gas all being incurred at home games. The decision would fall down if every club decided that it could not play at home but of the League’s 40 senior clubs, 37 of them are prepared to continue to play at home in December, with only two unwilling, plus Jersey Bulls who cannot play at the moment due to the stricter rules of the Jersey Government.
By playing on with paying spectators it does at least bring some money into clubs’ coffers.
By addressing the problem on a monthly basis, it does allow a short period of relative stability, and does allow clubs to review their situation on a regular basis.
There is huge uncertainty concerning Step 3/4 leagues recommencing. They are looking for a concerted approach between all three leagues at that level and with many clubs in the North plus the whole of Kent in Tier 3 (i.e. no bar and no spectators) it is understandable that those leagues may not recommence any time soon. A decision is expected on Thursday. If they don't start, doubtless our clubs will be delighted to welcome potential new spectators who are looking for their football fix.