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COVID 19 Advice, Updates & FAQs

Click here for the latest information. Last updated 18/07/2020

GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL IS CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING AN UNPRECEDENTED PERIOD OF DISRUPTION DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Quite rightly the focus is on staying safe and adhering to Government guidelines. We are aware though that clubs, leagues and volunteers are looking for the most up-to-date information on the current and future impact on grassroots football as a result of the pandemic.

FA Announce Return To Football - 18th July 2020

 

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The FA issues guidelines for the return of outdoor competitive grassroots football

Practical guidance for players, coaches, officials, volunteers, clubs, leagues, parents/carers and facility providers undertaking outdoor competitive grassroots football activity in England. 

The FA can confirm that the UK Government approved its plan for the return of outdoor 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. 

The FA has 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.

The FA 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 The FA’s 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 The FA’s 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
 

Separate guidance has been developed for clubs with teams competing in the men’s National League System (NLS) and the Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6. 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. The FA 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 are 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.”

Click Here For Full Article and Documents

FA Guidance - 3rd July 2020

Following recent Government updates to the COVID-19 guidance, we now have updated guidance documents for adult players, coaches, facility operators, parents and carers involved in re-starting grassroots football activity from Saturday 4 July.

These are available for download below, along with some practical tips for coaches working with individualspairs, and in threes.

These guidelines have been produced in line with the recent Government updates to the COVID-19 guidance. Specifically, these documents have been updated to reflect changes to social distancing guidelines which will come into effect from 4 July and the introduction of support bubbles which came into effect on 10 June.

The Government guidance for the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation can be found here.

We continue to be in active discussions with other team sports, Sport England and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport about how we can secure a safe return to competitive grassroots football as soon as is reasonably possible.

We will keep you updated as these discussions progress and provide amended guidance as and when we can.

Thank you for playing your vital part in helping our great game get going again and let’s continue to work together to ensure football’s return is as smooth and safe as possible.

12/06/2020 - Update - FAQ's also updated

New Guidance Documents Issued for Re-starting Football Activity During Covid-19

The fa have today issued new guidance documents for adult players, coaches, facility operators, parents and carers involved in re-starting grassroots football activity during covid-19.

These documents have been produced in line with Government guidance issued on Monday 1 June, which saw the easing of lockdown restrictions on gatherings, public spaces and outdoor activities and the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation.

The return of grassroots football is something that we know many are keen to see, but at this stage of the nation’s response to Covid-19, it must be done with careful consideration for everyone’s safety, especially vulnerable groups.

We continue to work closely with DCMS and Sport England in order to set out good practice guidance for those responsible for delivering different aspects of grassroots football. As the weeks progress, Government restrictions may or may not be eased further. If they are, we will update our guidance accordingly. It’s essential everyone is clear about the restrictions and works together to manage social distancing and strong hand hygiene.

We want to thank you all in advance for playing your vital part in helping our great game get going again. By observing Government guidance and these documents, let’s work together to ensure the transition back to enjoying football is as smooth and safe as possible.

Please note that guidance is being developed for clubs with teams competing in the National League System (NLS) and will be shared with clubs directly in due course. NLS clubs with grassroots teams should be able to use the guidance provided today.

The guidance documents can be downloaded below. 

FA_FOOTBALL ACTIVITY GUIDANCE - FOR COACHES - HI RES

FA_FOOTBALL ACTIVITY GUIDANCE - FOR COACHES - HI RES

FA_FOOTBALL ACTIVITY GUIDANCE - FOR PARENTS AND CARERS - HI RES

FA_FOOTBALL ACTIVITY GUIDANCE - FOR PROVIDERS FOR FOOTBALL ACTIVITIES -HI RES

FA FOOTBALL ACTIVITY GUIDANCE - FOR ADULT PLAYERS - HI RES

THE_FA_RESTART FOOTBALL - LATEST GUIDANCE - 12 JUNE 2020

 

01/06/2020 - Update 

The FA Have Today Issued Further Guidance To All Grassroots Football And Informal Football Activity Outside The Professional Game Following The Government’s Relaxation Of COVID-19 Restrictions From 1 June 2020.

Consistent with Government advice published on Monday 1 June, the following outdoor football activity is currently permitted:

• playing football individually. For example, practice of individual skills or fitness activities;

• playing football with your family or other people living in your household;

• football training or fitness activities in groups of no more than six, keeping two metres apart at all times.

Sharing of equipment should be kept to a minimum and strong hand hygiene practices should be in place before and after. Physical contact with anyone outside of your household is not permitted, therefore playing of any games (small-sided or full) is also not permitted at this time. Avoid meeting in groups of six in busy or overcrowded areas if it is so busy that it is not possible to maintain social distancing at all times.

Football coaches can now undertake small group sessions up to six people (including the coach) but are reminded to follow FA safeguarding policy when coaching/working with children. This must include risk assessing the activities, gaining consent from parents/carers and ensuring you are in sight of another adult. For example, a parent/carer or another coach and that the ratio of coach to different age-groups of children is appropriate – see download 5.5 . For clarity, the additional parent/carer or coach is not included as part of the group of six but must remain in sight of the activity.

It is permissible for coaches to organise a training session that has two or more groups of six (including the coach) involved in the session, as long as the groups of six are kept separate, everyone is socially distancing and strict hygiene measures are in place with any equipment.

Football coaches working with people with impairments must ensure they can adequately cater for any additional needs whilst still avoiding physical contact and maintaining social distancing. Individuals should follow Government guidance relevant to their own impairment or health condition.

Please be reminded, if an individual is symptomatic, living in a household with a possible COVID-19 infection or if you're classified as extremely vulnerable on health grounds, the guidance is that you should remain at home.

We continue to work closely with DCMS and Sport England in order to set out good practice guidance for those responsible for delivering different aspects of grassroots football and we will provide further updates to as guidance information is shared.

We have been receiving a number of questions regards the return to Grassroots football. The statement on our website from the FA is an evolving statement which will be updated as soon as we have further information. If clubs are in any doubt do not commence activity at this time.

 

05/05/2020 - Update (amended 12/06/2020)

To assist you we have consolidated all the current COVID-19 information into one place. This will be updated as we continue to work through this period. To view this information in full, FAQs 12th June

 

COVid 19 FAQ's updated 12/06/2020

Yes, whilst the Association took the difficult decision to place a number of staff on furlough leave the following staff members are working remotely to provide as much support to clubs, leagues and referees as possible. Please direct any enquiries through to the most relevant staff member outlined below or email info@nottinghamshirefa.com and we will respond as swiftly as we possibly can.

Effective from Friday 12th June;

Elaine Oram, CEO – Elaine.Oram@nottinghamshirefa.com
Leanne Woodhead-Groves, Business Development Manager – Leanne.Woodhead@nottinghamshirefa.com
Marc Birkett - Football Development Manager - marc.birkett@nottinghamshirefa.com
Julie Mitchell - Football Services Admin (Player Registrations) - julie.mitchell@nottinghamshirefa.com
 

 

 

 

After consultation with a number of key stakeholders the FA decided to conclude the 2019-20 Grassroots Football season. Nottinghamshire FA have been working closely with member leagues to help them to determine how they close out their current competitions, both league and cups. The majority of leagues have concluded the season with the outcome communicated to member clubs. Those leagues that haven’t finalised their approach will be making decisions shortly and will communicate directly to clubs.

What about County Cup competitions?


2019/20 Season - following the closure of season 2019-20 the decision was taken to cancel the Cup Competitions and were declared ‘null and void’. 



 

We wish we knew! The situation regarding Covid-19 is incredibly fluid and it is impossible to say at this stage when and how football will be back. Like you we are already desperate for it to return!

Is there a chance that next season may not be able to start on time?
We hope that things will be back to normal next season, but it certainly remains a definite possibility that there may be a delay. The government will determine when and how the current restrictions that are in place are lifted and only once it is safe to do so will The FA permit grassroots football to start again. 

As this season has been concluded, does that mean that as a player I can now sign for another club for next season?
No. As it stands there has been no change to the Rules regarding player registrations so players cannot sign for next season yet. Players are free to join new teams from the 31st May as per a normal season.

Are we able to train as a team?
No. The suspension also applies to training. If a team were to organise a training session this would contravene the Government’s current advice and you would not be covered by the Club’s Public Liability and Personal Accident insurance.

Can we play friendlies?
No. There is no difference between playing a friendly and playing a league or cup match. You cannot play any football whilst the suspension is in place. It is important to understand that if you were to play a friendly, you would not be covered by the Public Liability and Personal Accident insurance.

What about small-sided football?

Yes, all affiliated football is currently suspended for the foreseeable future so that covers every format of the game.


The FA have made us aware that affiliation will be available from our normal date if we wish; however, at present we have not made a decision as to when to open affiliation as the situation is far too uncertain and we don’t know when the season will commence. Obviously, we will communicate more when we have a definitive date.


We have also been asked about affiliation fees for next season. The Board are currently reviewing the affiliation pricing for next season as they assess how best to help clubs recover from the impact of Covid-19. Further information will be available in due course.
 

In relation to league fees, as autonomous bodies it is down to each individual league to make a decision on the fees they charge. Once each League has confirmed their position regarding the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, plans will be made for League AGMs to take place. It is highly unlikely that these meetings, which are scheduled to take place in June & July will be able to take place in their normal format due to the requirements of social distancing. Therefore, over the coming days we will be working with our Leagues regarding how to proceed.

It is currently planned that referee registrations will open from 1st June via the usual Whole Game System portal. Please note all referees U18 will be required to have a parent/carer attached to them, this individual will need a FAN number. For any issues on this please contact marc.birkett@nottinghamshirefa.com.   

Should I still report any Safeguarding or Welfare concerns I have?
Yes. Although football is not being played the welfare and safety of young people is still our main priority. If you have any concerns then please report them to Julia Crone (safeguarding@nottinghamshirefa.com).  If a child is in immediate danger or at risk of harm, then contact the Police (999) or the NSPCC (0808 800 5000).

Requirements for Affiliation
This is subject to review depending on the progress of Covid-19. We will be liaising with The FA to have a better understanding for this period and the impacts of individuals not being able to complete the workshop. By way of assistance, please see below the period of validation for a certificate:

• Safeguarding Children Workshop - three years
• Welfare Officer Workshop - does not have to be renewed after completion
• Safeguarding for Committee Members - four years
• DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) - three years

If you have previously completed a Safeguarding Children Workshop in person (three hours), you should be able to renew via the online self-recertification. Please contact Julia Crone for further information.

FA DBS
The FA are implementing temporary changes to DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks in football for the period which football is suspended due to Coronavirus, up to and including the start of the 2020/21 season. These changes are outlined below and will apply to all roles in football. This decision has been made considering the current cessation of football activity, difficulties regarding online ID verification for the purposes of renewing a DBS check and demand on the DBS service due to the current health crisis.

1.            All volunteers carrying out regulated activity with under 18s (in accordance with DBS guidance) require an     Enhanced DBS with a check of the Children’s Barring List before they commence their role within football. This is current practice and will remain in place. However, we ask that new DBS checks are not submitted whilst football activity remains suspended. For the avoidance of doubt, volunteers will not be permitted to carry out regulated activity with under 18s until they have obtained a DBS check. The FA will provide a further update on processing new DBS checks in due course when there is further clarity on when football activity will resume.

2.            All individuals whose DBS checks are due to expire between 1st March 2020 and 1st October 2020 will not be required to renew their DBS checks until one year after the scheduled date of expiry. The FA currently requires DBS checks to be renewed every three years, in accordance with industry standards and best practice. However, we have made an informed decision to extend that to four years, in these limited circumstances, based on the current health crisis, associated difficulties in DBS check renewal and the fact that these individuals already hold a DBS check which has been accepted by The FA.

The FA are currently proposing an end date of 1st October 2020, based on the fact that this season’s grassroots footballing activity has ended and the assumption that pre-season will commence with the start of the youth season starting in September 2020. However, as circumstances develop, this date is potentially subject to change. The FA’s proposals outlined above are applicable to all DBS checks completed through The FA and the Whole Game System will be updated to reflect these changes.

Please note that the changes outlined above are temporary, and The FA reserves the right to review and amend the position, including to reflect changes in legislation and/or statutory guidance with respect to the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic and further clarity on when football activity will resume. The above changes are made to support the footballing family in the immediate term and to support a return to football activity in the longer term whilst ensuring The FA’s commitment to safeguarding remains in place.

How do I commence new, or renew an existing, DBS application?
No new FA DBS checks should be undertaken at this time. We are in communication with The FA and as we receive further updates this information will be shared.
You may already notice that, if your DBS is due to expire between 1st March 2020 and 1st October 2020, the expiry date on your FAN made have been updated. Please read the above section on FA DBS. We will continue to share all updates as well as the processes which will be put in place for DBS checks upon the return to football.

How will my club pay its bills?

We do recognise that this is a significant worry for many clubs and County FA’s are currently discussing the financial implications of the suspension with The FA who in turn are talking to the Government. At this stage it is simply too soon to give any further information about any support that may be available, although the Treasury have issued the following:

• Grant funding of £25,000 is available for hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
• A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will be introduced.
For further support, please visit the Government’s support for businesses page or contact your local authority which will be issued with guidance to help businesses in their area.

Is there any funding for clubs during this time?

Sport England have released an emergency fund in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Local clubs, leagues and community sports organisations who are experiencing short-term financial hardship due to the impact of Covid-19 are eligible to apply to Sport England’s new Community Emergency Fund. We encourage all our affiliated clubs and sanctioned leagues to consider applying if emergency money is needed.

Can clubs still charge subscriptions while all football is postponed?

This is a club decision. We would advise that you consult with players, parents and guardians on reaching a decision. Clubs who own / lease facilities will still have bills to pay and this should be explained. However, clubs should be mindful of people who are currently out of work as result of COVID-19 or have had their working hours reduced and may struggle to make payments. Could you: -
• offer payment holidays for those in need? 
• allow subscriptions to be paid in instalments?





As it stands, no Club can run a summer tournament due to the current suspension. We do, of course, recognise that these events are important fundraisers for Clubs but at the present time the suspension does prevent these from taking place.
Can I still action and pay my discipline?

Yes. We encourage everyone to use the Whole Game System to do this. If you normally pay by cheque you can continue to do so by sending the payments to the office address as usual where they will be collected and processed


Will my suspension still stand?
Yes. Any suspension still outstanding following the last competitive fixture will be served at the start of the 2020-21 season.

If results from last season are expunged, will any discipline fines we paid during the season be refunded?
No. The FA have confirmed the position regarding this. The Sanctions imposed are as a result of misconduct committed and are not dependent on the completion of a season. This would be a similar scenario to matches abandoned where the game has not completed but the sanctions remain.

What about outstanding suspensions from the 2019-20 season? Will these be waived?
As per the regulations any suspension outstanding following the last competitive fixture will be served at the commencement of the next season. On that basis any suspension that remains outstanding will be served at the commencement once competitive football recommences.

Will my team still receive late fines and suspensions if I do not deal with the discipline?
We will not be issuing late fees during this period.

What is happening with current misconduct charges?
In line with Government advice no personal hearings are to be staged at this time. You may be offered the chance to proceed by papers or digitally but if you want a personal hearing then this will be held once Government restrictions are lifted.

Will my team be disciplined for having excessive discipline points at the end of the season?
With the number of outstanding fixtures that were due to be played it is unlikely any team will surpass the threshold. For those teams that already have reached the threshold then your punishment will be served at the start of the 2020-21 season.

Football debt recovery

Should the current COVID-19 restrictions continue for longer than 12 weeks then applications can still be submitted by clubs although action may not be taken until the County FA offices reopen.

If a player refunds a club directly during this time, then please notify the County FA as soon as possible.
All courses are postponed for the foreseeable future. When the current Government advice changes and we receive confirmation from FA Learning that courses can resume we will then make an announcement.