Update 20th July 2020
Late last night the FA published their announcement in respect of
the return of grassroots football. The details of their announcement
are given below. I also attach the documents mentioned as available
on their website relevant to our level of the game providing their
guidelines for the return of grassroots.
Next step is for us to hold an MEFL Committee meeting to discuss
the impacts & agree our plans so that we can then provide further
details to you all. In the meantime we would recommend that you
read all the guidance documents so that you can understand what
is required of you & start planning accordingly.
Any further information we receive from The FA or County will be
shared as quickly as we can.
Enjoy your weekend & enjoy the reading!!
FA announcement was:
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 are now ready for publication.
Football activity can take place with necessary modifications in place to mitigate the transmission risk of COVID-19.
We would strongly recommend a phased return to competitive football activity as follows:
• Until 31 July – When ready, you can begin competitive training, with the overall group size (inclusive of coaches) being limited to 30 people;
• From August – Competitive matches to begin, for example pre-season fixtures, festivals and small sided football competitions;
• From September – Grassroots leagues, men’s National League System, Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6, and FA Competitions can commence.
Clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents/carers, spectators and football facility providers should read our full guidelines, which are accessible below, in addition to the latest Government guidance on COVID-19.
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.
A summary of key points to consider from our guidelines are listed for ease below:
• Everyone should self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms before every training session or match. If you are symptomatic or living in a household with possible or actual COVID-19 infection you must not participate or attend;
• Clubs and facility providers should ensure that their facility is compliant with current Government legislation and guidance related to COVID-19;
• Competitive training is now permitted, with groups limited to a maximum of 30 people, including coaches;
• Competitive match play is permitted, with social distancing in place before and after the match, and in any breaks in play;
• Players and officials should sanitise hands before and after a game as well as scheduled breaks throughout a game or training session;
• Ball handling should be kept to a minimum with most contact via a boot and the ball disinfected in breaks of play;
• Youth football coaches are encouraged to limit persistent close proximity of participants during match play and training;
• Goal celebrations should be avoided;
• Equipment should not be shared, and goalkeepers should ensure they disinfect their gloves regularly in breaks in training or matches and thoroughly afterwards. Where possible, coaches should only handle equipment in training;
• 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;
• Participants should follow best practice for travel including minimising use of public transport and walking or cycling if possible. People from a household or support bubble can travel together in a vehicle
• Clubs should keep a record of attendees at a match or training session, including contact details, to support NHS Test and Trace;
• Clubs should ensure they are affiliated with their County Football Association.
This will support these clubs on the safe return of paying spectators and also the applicability of the guidance to facilities under Ground Grading conditions, to ensure the safe return of competitive matches.
Please note that at this stage, indoor football and Futsal is not permitted. We will look to work with indoor facility providers to develop appropriate guidance for indoor formats as soon as possible.
James Kendall, Director of Football Development at The FA, 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.”
The full guidance document can be downloaded below, along with a short summary for all those involved in restarting activity.
Update 2nd July 2020
As wider society progresses in regard to the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions we are receiving reports through of Clubs holding training sessions outside of the Government Guidance that is currently in situ, along with some reports that Clubs are looking at holding fixtures within their Club or with other teams, which is currently not permitted.
As a result we wanted to provide a reminder to all Clubs that the Current Government Guideline, along with guidance from The FA, can be found on our website here
It is important that any return to training has had full risk assessment process undertaken and made available to any individuals who will be involved in the sessions, is in line with Government and FA guidance ensuring Social Distancing measures of 2m are maintained throughout, and ensuring no contact training or small sided match play activity (e.g. 1v1 / 2v2 etc.) takes place, along with ensuring FA Safeguarding measures on coach to player ratios are maintained.
It is very positive that the first steps on the road to a return to football can take place ,but also important to ensure that any return to training or football activity is in line with the wider Government social distancing measures.
Update 29th June 2020
Please continue to check the Essex FA website for the latest update on the impact on grass roots football.
Update - 8th June 2020
ESSEX COUNTY FA COVID-19 GUIDANCE - 3rd June 2020
Following The FA’s recent announcement regarding the ability for small group training to commence, there has understandably been a desire from a number of clubs and individuals to re-commence sessions, in line with The FA Guidance
As a County FA we understand this eagerness as we recognise this is seen as the first cautious and positive step towards the return of the grassroots game.
At the same time we have also received a number of queries and questions regarding this announcement as clubs and individuals, like ourselves, are considering how guidance can be implemented within clubs. This due diligence is essential as Sport England themselves have stated that they encourage all organisations with a role in this to take time to look at how they can operate effectively and safely within the six-person limit, while strictly adhering to publichealth guidance around hygiene and social distancing.
We would urge all clubs to give this appropriate consideration whilst stressing that the decision to re-commence with these small group training sessions is one for clubs and organisations to take, and if clubs/organisations feel that the risk is too great, or it is too soon to commence with these sessions, then that is fine and understandable.
For those clubs/organisations that feel they are in a position to recommence then steps should be taken to strictly adhere to the FA guidance giving due consideration for the operational implementation of the guidance based on the club’s individual circumstances (e.g. own ground, public park etc.) to ensure a safe environment is created for all involved.
The FA are currently working on further detailed guidance to assist in this process and we will continue to communicate and share this with you as this is released.
In the interim period, as well as the FA guidance we have also reviewed Sports England and Government Advice and would ask that clubs also consider the following areas:
We have had it confirmed from our recommended insurance partners, Bluefin Sport, that clubs and organisations who are affiliated for the 19-20 season, will be covered from a Public Liability (PL) and Personal Accident (PA) perspective.
This will cover training, so long as guidance is followed, and those benefits included in your package. We are continuing to have ongoing liaison with Bluefin as guidance in this area evolves. Bluefin will be coming back to us with any additional guidance and advice.
If you have your own PL and/or PA insurance with a different broker/company then we would suggest you make contact with them to discuss this as soon as possible.
The advice states that you must ‘conduct a thorough Risk Assessment’ before engaging in any sessions, particularly looking at how you would implement the guidance in your own individual settings, as well as including any ‘particular considerations for U18s and Vulnerable Adults’.
We have asked both The FA and Bluefin for additional guidance and a potential template with regards to this area.
General Health and Hygiene Considerations
In line with Government advice you should consider:
• Ensuring that any member who is symptomatic or living in a household with someone who has possible or confirmed Covid-19 remains at home.
If individuals have been asked to isolate by NHS ‘Test and Trace’ or they are considered as extremely vulnerable on health grounds, then they should follow the specific advice for these groups, further advice can be found here
• All parties should wash their hands thoroughly before and after sessions
• Use hand sanitiser at intervals
• Once home, all parties, should remember to wash your hands
• Children, particularly younger ones, are not always great at hygiene. So special attention should be paid to children’s hand hygiene.
• More advice can be found here
We understand that The FA will release some further guidance for facility providers.
However, for now and in line with Government advice you should consider:
If the facility is not yours:
• If the facility you use is not yours then check in advance that the facility has re-opened and/or you have permission to use this site.
If you have your own facility:
• Is your facility ready for training (e.g. has it been cut, are there pitch renovations due to be undertaken etc.)?
• What will you be realistically and safely able to deliver (in terms of numbers/groups etc) given the facility you have (including car parking, playing facilities, cross over times of people arriving and leaving etc)?
• Communicate how and when people can safely arrive and leave the facility giving consideration for flows of movements to minimise cross overs
• If you have your own facility with changing rooms and facilities, then other than toilets and through ways, this should remain closed.
• Additional cleaning will be required in these areas when accessing and leaving the facility e.g. wipe down areas on contact, additional hand washing/sanitising facilities, use of paper towels where possible etc.)
• Consider the need for additional signage
Additional Government advice can be found here
There is an obvious need to clearly communicate with all relevant parties and therefore the following guidance should be considered:
• Need to communicate clearly and regularly with members – setting out what you are doing to manage risk
• Ascertain the desire of coaches/parents/participants to attend these sessions. Do you have enough interest to make these sessions practical?
• Communicate how and when people can safely arrive and leave the facility giving consideration for flows of movements to minimise cross overs
• Consider and Communicate whether or not there will be a charge for these sessions? Some clubs may have stopped memberships/subscription fees. Will the club require additional funding to support the implementation of these guidelines and/or to support the financial viability of the club?
The following areas should be taken into consideration for all U18’s and Vulnerable Adults:
• Must continue to comply with FA Safeguarding Policies and Procedures
• Consent must be gained from parents/carers (we have asked whether this needs to be specific and new consent)
• Parents/Carers should ensure that they are in sight of the session
• Parents/Carers are responsible for the supervising of their children at all times and to reinforce the guidelines for social distancing etc. themselves.
• Consideration to the treatment of injuries (we have asked for further advice on recommended procedures) but coaches are unlikely to be able to attend to injuries due to social distancing
• Consideration of tying of shoe laces (again coaches are unable to attend to this due to social distancing)
• Consideration of the psychological impact that this may have had on children and how coaches/clubs will connect with players before starting back. Outlining what will happen at training and provide them with a sense of safety.
• The FA are working on additional guidance for Club Welfare Officers and this will be shared as soon as possible with all CWO’s.
The following should be considered around travel to and from sessions:
• You shouldn’t travel with someone from outside of your household
Must consider using all other forms of transport before using public transport
• Further guidance can be found h