The Football Association (FA) has said it is working to submit a comprehensive action plan for Government approval so that grassroots team sports can return.
It follows guidance published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to enable competitive grassroots team sports to return, starting with cricket from Saturday (July 11).
The Government is asking sports governing bodies to prepare their own plans on returning to action while mitigating the risks of coronavirus.
A statement from the FA said: “We welcome the announcement and publication of the Government’s return to recreational sport framework today, which means we can look forward to the safe return of competitive grassroots football.
“We are now working to submit a comprehensive action plan and related guidance for Government approval as outlined in DCMS’s publication.
“Once approved, we will publish new guidance for the grassroots football community. We will confirm timings as soon as we are able.
“In the meantime, competitive grassroots football can prepare to return and look forward to the start of the new season.
“Please also note that guidance is being developed for clubs with teams competing in the National League System (NLS) and will be shared with those clubs directly in due course.”
The Government framework sets out the principles that sports must follow to enable the safe return of grassroots fixtures and games.
It will allow different households to participate in training and competitive matches while ensuring the risks of transmitting Covid-19 are minimised. It lays the groundwork for recreational cricket to return on 11 July after the England and Wales Cricket Board submitted thorough plans for the sport’s safe return – with more sports set to follow.
Supporters will also be allowed to attend community fixtures in small numbers provided they are in groups of two households only, or no larger than six people from different households, and adhere to social distancing measures.
Measures in the guidance include:
– Activity organisers should support track and trace efforts by collecting information on participants at both training and matches.
– All players, officials, volunteers and spectators must undergo a self-assessment for any Covid-19 symptoms. If they or anyone they live with has symptoms, they should not train, play or attend matches, and should instead self-isolate in line with public health guidance.
– Participants and spectators should minimise the use of public transport and car-sharing with anyone outside their household. They should instead walk or cycle to matches where they can.
– Clubs should strictly limit the time spent congregating at a venue before a match begins. Where possible, players should arrive changed and ready to warm up, limiting time spent waiting around or in changing rooms.
– All sports must adhere to social distancing throughout warm-ups and breaks in play, and avoid equipment sharing where possible. Players should also avoid unnecessary close contact such as handshakes or huddles.
– Sports where a single ball needs to be touched by multiple players, such as basketball, cricket and football, need to include in their action plans how they will reduce the risk of this transmitting the virus – for example by cleaning when it goes out of play.
– Club toilets will need to be opened for pre-match, during the match and for 30 minutes afterwards, but they must be cleaned regularly in line with public health guidance.
– Clubhouses and bars can be opened in line with government guidance on hospitality, with groups limited to six people.