FA provide update on return to football

THE FA have provided an update on the return of outdoor grassroots football and the support available to clubs across the grassroots football community.

On Monday 29th March, as part of the next stage of the Government’s roadmap out of national lockdown, outdoor sports facilities can open, and organised outdoor football can take place. The FA have now published their updated guidance, based on the latest Government advice available, which applies to all outdoor youth and adult football and Futsal, including all formats of the game.

If there are any further updates from the Government, The FA will communicate these in due course, and will also update their guidance as we move through the different steps of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Travel

The Government guidance on travel is that the ‘stay at home’ rule will end on Monday 29th March, but many restrictions will remain in place. As organised sport can resume, all participants may travel to games but should avoid travel at the busiest times and routes, as well as minimising unnecessary journeys where possible. All participants must follow the Government’s guidance on safer travel.

Changing Rooms

Changing rooms cannot be used as part of step one in the roadmap out of lockdown, and must remain shut. Toilets will be allowed to open, 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after training and/or matches. All Government guidance on hygiene and social distancing measures must be followed.

Spectators

No spectators are allowed at grassroots football as part of step one of the Government’s roadmap. One parent or guardian per child is permitted, where clubs and facilities can safely accommodate this, and following all appropriate guidance.

Indoor Football

Indoor sport is not currently allowed. This is planned to return no earlier than Monday 17th May, as part of step three of the Government’s roadmap, apart from disability football, which is currently allowed to take place indoors.

It’s extremely important that clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents, carers, and facility providers continue to strictly follow both the UK Government’s latest guidance on Covid-19 and respective bespoke guidance documents from The FA. Any incidents of non-compliance will be reported to the local County Football Association.

Further FA Financial Support for the Game

With the assistance of Sport England, we’re pleased to confirm we will be offering funding to County FAs to provide discounted 2021/22 season affiliation.

This will be available across the whole of affiliated football, assisting everyone with getting back to the game they love, and especially those from under-represented areas of the game such as women and girls, lower socio-economic groups, minority groups and those with a disability.

The FA, alongside Sport England, strongly encourage all of those restarting in the weeks ahead to ensure that everyone is able to benefit, no matter their age or gender, from fair and equal access to playing opportunities.

In addition to this, The FA’s ‘Return to Football Fund’, made possible with Sport England funding from the National Lottery, will provide £2.1 million targeted at supporting people in low-participation groups to start playing again. It will also fund initiatives aimed at bringing new players into the game and cover the cost of adapting to Covid-19 rules.

Finally, alongside FA partners at the Football Foundation, The FA also recently announced two other new funds to provide further financial support to clubs over the longer term.

The £14 million Grass Pitch Maintenance Fund is providing six-year tapered grants to improve the quality of grass pitches, while the Small Grants Fund is available to help clubs pay for the essential equipment and machinery they need to start playing again.

Clubs can apply for up to £25k to refurbish their changing rooms, pay for grass pitch drainage, new goalposts, pitch maintenance equipment and portable floodlights. For more information about the funds and how to apply, visit the Football Foundation website.

Clubs and leagues can access The FA’s online support hub (and podcasts), which includes up-to-date information, guidance and signposts as well as other useful information relating to funding and support services. The full return to grassroots football guidance document can be downloaded from www.essexfa.com.

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