September start to 2020-21 ‘most likely scenario’ for non-league clubs
- Credit: Archant
Local non-league football clubs could start the 2020-21 season in September, following a meeting with the FA last week.
The governing body met with step five and six leagues and said non-league football will only restart when the Department of Media, Culture & Sport (DCMS) gives approval, subject to any conditions made.
And they believe a September start is the most likely scenario, with league fixtures taking priority and possibly no league or county cup competitions being held.
Clubs were told that games cannot start at steps one to seven without spectators, which would mean having to make allowances inside grounds for social distancing.
And the FA revealed it was still their ambition to run the FA Cup and FA Vase competitions in full, but realise it may not be possible given the fact they are contractually bound to stage third round ties on the first weekend of January. Replays could be dropped.
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It is believed prize money for all competitions will be reduced next season, with FA ties having half the amount available compared to last year, while Trophy and Vase figures go down by around six per cent.
And there is a chance the season could be extended into May, rather than finish on the last weekend of April, but this would be dependent on the actual starting date of the 2020-21 campaign.
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The FA said all clubs will be required to produce and publish a risk assessment and/or action plans to ensure they are ‘Covid secure’ and include such things as return to full training/matches, use of facilities including clubhouses/dressing rooms, travel and volunteer workforce.
A guidance paper is being written by the FA that will become available to clubs in the near future.
The latest information affects the likes of United Counties League Division One side Huntingdon Town, Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division outfit Eynesbury Rovers and Eastern Counties League Premier Division club Godmanchester Rovers.
It does not apply to St Ives Town or St Neots Town, who play at step three and four level respectively in the Southern League.
The next FA Leagues meeting is set to take place on July 14.