Football’s back! Grassroots football gets green light for August return to action

PUBLISHED: 14:01 18 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:01 18 July 2020

Honiton 2nds at home to East Budleigh. Ref mhsp 40-16TI 9156. Picture: Terry Ife

Honiton 2nds at home to East Budleigh. Ref mhsp 40-16TI 9156. Picture: Terry Ife


Local football clubs have been given the green light with regard to a return to action.

The FA released a statement with detailed guidelines for the return of grassroots football following the government announcement on Friday, July 18, regarding further easing of lockdown restrictions.

In summary, from now, clubs can train with a maximum of 30 players at any one time – with that number including any coaching staff.

Then, from August 1, competitive matches can be played - pre-season fixtures, festivals and small sided football competitions and, from September 1, Grassroots leagues, men’s National League System, Women’s Football Pyramid tiers three to six, and FA Competitions can commence.

However, the communication does make it plain that there are strict Covid-19 guidelines to be followed before any of the above takes place and that applies to all clubs.

Amongst the recommendations and guidelines are...

Travel to away matches – guidelines for players and club management/officials

All participants and other attendees should follow best practice for travel, including minimising use of public transport. Participants should walk or cycle if possible. People from a household or support bubble can travel together in a vehicle. If participants do have to travel with people outside their household or support bubble they should try to:

• Share the transport with the same people each time;

• Keep to small groups of people at any one time;

• Open windows for ventilation;

• Face away from each other;

• Clean the car between journeys using standard cleaning products – including door handles and other areas that people may touch;

• Ask the driver and all passengers to wear a face covering;

• Consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle – this may mean using more than one coach or minibus if possible, and the wearing of face coverings on coaches or minibuses;

• Require regular hand sanitisation by passengers on a coach or minibus;

• Limit the time spent at garages, petrol stations and motorway services; • Keep distance from other people and if possible, pay by contactless;

• Wash hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise hands often, and always when exiting or re-entering the vehicle;

• When finishing the journey participants should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise their hands as soon as possible.

With regard to changing:

• Where possible, players, match officials and coaches must arrive changed and shower at home;

• Toilets should be open pre-match, during the match and for 30 minutes afterwards.

In terms of match action

• Pre-match handshake should not happen. Instead players will be asked to hand-sanitise before kick-off;

• Team talk huddles should not take place. Team talks can take place, as long as social distancing is observed and held outdoors where possible;

• Warm-ups/cool-downs should always observe social distancing;

• Coaches, other team staff and substitutes are allowed, but must also always observe social distancing on touchlines/dug-outs. Social-distancing must also be observed during interactions when a substitution is being made; • Match preparation meetings by officials should be held by video call;

• Set plays – free kicks: referees and coaches should encourage players to get on with the game and not unnecessarily prolong set play set-up, such as defensive walls;

• Set plays – corners should also be taken promptly to limit prolonged close marking and goal posts should be wiped down beforematches, after matches and at half time.

• Goal celebrations should be avoided;

• Interactions with referees and match assistants should only happen with players observing social distancing;

• Small-sided football should be modified to provide more regular hygiene breaks in activity.

Players should be discouraged from touching boards at any time, with tackling against boards discouraged.

Referees should consider stopping play when this happens.

• Youth football coaches are encouraged to limit persistent close proximity of participants during match play (where young participants may be more likely to cluster around the ball) and provide regular hygiene breaks in activity.

And in general, with regard to social, distancing and the guidelines:

After training sessions and/or matches, participants must maintain government mandated social distancing for social interaction.

This includes in any available changing rooms, showers, and any clubhouse facilities or other venue that participants may congregate in afterwards.

Bars and restaurants, which includes any food or drink facilities inside a clubhouse, have been able to open since July 4, in accordance with the latest Government guidance.

For the full guidance visit

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