Bideford AFC vow to fight charge following withdrawal from Bristol Manor Farm clash

Bideford AFC

Bideford AFC - Credit: Archant

Bideford AFC have vowed to fight a charge filed against them by the Southern League after they pulled out of a Division South fixture due to coronavirus concerns.

The Robins and Bristol Manor Farm have both been charged by the league for failing to fulfil their Division One South fixture on October 24.

Bideford pulled out of the game at the last minute when club officials learned there had been recent confirmed Covid-19 cases within the opposition club.

A statement from the Bideford AFC board said they ‘strongly refuted’ the charge, and had provided the Southern League with the details which factored into their decision to withdraw from the fixture.

The statement said the club had been contacted directly by two ladies with connections to the club who raised concerns about a number of Covid-19 cases.

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It added: “Upon reaching the ground, the board members present investigated the information provided further and began discussions with representatives of Bristol Manor Farm. Discussions were also held with the match officials. No league officials were at the ground.

“Taking into consideration these facts, and following the statement issued at the Southern League AGM, that if any club felt they were being placed in an unsafe position they would be supported by the league if they back out of the fixture, we were in a position where we had to put the health and safety of our team, supporters and fellow officials first leaving us with no option but to withdraw from the fixture.”

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“Our concerns regarding the lack of track and track systems and social distancing measures at the ground have been given to the Southern League along the details of verbal abuse from players and management of Bristol Manor Farm aimed at Bideford AFC officials and supporters.

“The board of Bideford AFC look forward to receiving a favourable decision from the Southern League in due course.”

Covid-19 stopped Bideford from getting on the pitch on Saturday, with their FA Trophy clash at Yate Town cancelled after an opposition player tested positive for the virus.

It meant Yate forfeited the fixture, putting Bideford into the first round of the competition, where they have been drawn away at Evesham United.

The FA said it would provide an update on when the fixture could be played ‘in due course’.

Barnstaple Town did not make the journey to Winchester City on Saturday, citing coronavirus concerns.

Their Tuesday night match at Moneyfields has also been postponed with the national lockdown looming.

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