Devon Football League Remain Hopeful for Resumption

Braunton v Exmouth Town Reserves in the Devon Football League North and East Division. Picture: Matt

Braunton v Exmouth Town Reserves in the Devon Football League North and East Division. Picture: Matt Smart - Credit: Matt Smart

Devon Football League Remain Hopeful for Resumption

While the enforced break in football is frustrating for players and supporters of the beautiful game, spare a thought for the organisers.

The Devon Football League only came into existence at the start of last season and the inaugural campaign was cancelled in March.

Now this new season is underway, there is hope that all the matches will be played, with teams like our own Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth Town Reserves just waiting for more news.

“We obviously follow the FA guidance and pass that on to the clubs as quickly as possible,” said David Richardson, Secretary for the Devon Football League. “We travel around to different clubs through the season and I’ve been to Budleigh Salterton already. They’ve done everything properly in terms of Covid arrangements for the clubhouse.

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“Everything has come to a stop now for four weeks but we’re hoping to get the green light to go again at the beginning of December. I have a particular soft spot for Budleigh, as I used to be the treasurer. I know they had some difficulties with the floodlights but I believe that is being sorted after a grant from the local council. It is particularly important, as the Budleigh pitch is also used as a landing site for the Devon Air Ambulance.

“From a general football perspective, both divisions in the Devon Football League have started really well and some terrific football being played.”

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Despite this current interlude that has left everyone involved waiting in hope, the two months of football that did get played once again showed there is real enthusiasm for the Devon Football League.

The North & East Division has enjoyed a thrilling start, with a number of teams competing for the top spots, including the University of Exeter, Exwick Villa, Teignmouth and Topsham Town. Also near the summit are Newtown, who were dominant in the division last season, but the biggest challenge for the DFL Committee is juggling fixtures, particularly when individual teams are forced to postpone games due to Covid.

“In the North & East Division, I suppose the biggest change has been at Newtown, who only lost once before we finished last season, but have lost twice already this term.

“The other teams have clearly improved and Budleigh Salterton have enjoyed some good results, but perhaps let in a few too many goals.

“As a committee looking to organise the league, we are very grateful to Chris Cole for sorting all the fixtures. We are hoping to start again on December 5 but the biggest problem has been individual teams suffering from a Covid outbreak.

“These have happened more in South Devon than anywhere else and the only problem in North & East came at Newtown. There was an issue with the University of Exeter not being able to play outside for a number of weeks.

“It does make things very difficult in terms of planning schedules.”

As well as completing a hectic fixture schedule, the DFL had planned for a League Cup competition to be played this year and, with luck, it will be crammed into the calendar after Christmas.

It is a reflection of the difficulties facing Richardson and his colleagues, who work tirelessly to provide the administrative platform for local clubs to compete.

“We have delayed making a decision as to whether the League Cup will go ahead this season,” said Richardson. “We’re going to have a look at that after Christmas and try to get it included in the schedule.

“We are obliged to close the current season in early May, unless given different instructions by the FA. It is very tough for everybody involved but our great hope remains that we are able to complete the season.”

Whatever happens, the amazing volunteers and administrators that make football possible deserve all our support during these unprecedented times.

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