Practical guidance for players, coaches, officials, volunteers, clubs, leagues, parents/carers and facility providers undertaking outdoor competitive grassroots football activity in England.
The FA can confirm that the UK Government approved its plan for the return of outdoor grassroots football late last night, Friday 17 July 2020. As a result, the grassroots football community now has the opportunity to return to football and prepare for the start of the new season.
The FA has been working hard over recent weeks to prepare guidelines for the safe return of grassroots football and, following Government approval, these can now be published.
Football activity can take place with necessary modifications in place to mitigate the transmission risk of COVID-19.
The FA would strongly recommend a phased return to competitive football activity as follows:
Until 31 July – When ready, you can begin competitive training, with the overall group size (inclusive of coaches) being limited to 30 people;
From August – Competitive matches to begin, for example pre-season fixtures, festivals and small sided football competitions;
From September – Grassroots leagues, men’s National League System, Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6, and FA Competitions can commence.
Clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents/carers, spectators and football facility providers should read The FA’s full guidelines, which are accessible below, in addition to the latest Government guidance on COVID-19.
A return to competitive football should only happen once clubs and facility providers have completed the necessary risk assessments and comprehensive plans are in place. A summary of key points to consider from The FA’s guidelines are listed for ease below:
- Everyone should self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms before every training session or match. If you are symptomatic or living in a household with possible or actual COVID-19 infection you must not participate or attend;
- Clubs and facility providers should ensure that their facility is compliant with current Government legislation and guidance related to COVID-19;
- Competitive training is now permitted, with groups limited to a maximum of 30 people, including coaches;
- Competitive match play is permitted, with social distancing in place before and after the match, and in any breaks in play;
- Players and officials should sanitise hands before and after a game as well as scheduled breaks throughout a game or training session;
- Ball handling should be kept to a minimum with most contact via a boot and the ball disinfected in breaks of play;
- Youth football coaches are encouraged to limit persistent close proximity of participants during match play and training;
- Goal celebrations should be avoided;
- Equipment should not be shared, and goalkeepers should ensure they disinfect their gloves regularly in breaks in training or matches and thoroughly afterwards. Where possible, coaches should only handle equipment in training;
- Where possible, players, coaches and officials should arrive changed and shower at home. Use of changing and shower facilities must follow government advice on the use of indoor facilities;
- Participants should follow best practice for travel including minimising use of public transport and walking or cycling if possible. People from a household or support bubble can travel together in a vehicle;
- Clubs should keep a record of attendees at a match or training session, including contact details, to support NHS Test and Trace;
- Clubs should ensure they are affiliated with the County FA
Separate guidance has been developed for clubs with teams competing in the men’s National League System (NLS) and the Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6. This will support these Clubs on the safe return of paying spectators and also the applicability of the guidance to facilities under Ground Grading conditions, to ensure the safe return of competitive matches.
Please note that at this stage, indoor football and futsal is not permitted. The FA will look to work with indoor facility providers to develop appropriate guidance for indoor formats as soon as possible.
James Kendall, Director of Football Development at The FA, said:
“We are delighted that the Government has given the go-ahead for competitive grassroots football to return. The past few months have been some of the most challenging times not just for football, but across society, and today’s news will be welcomed by the grassroots football community all over the country.
“Now that we are able to look ahead to the new season, it’s crucial that we continue to do all we can to follow safety measures, both as advised by the government and specifically for football.
“I would encourage anyone returning to competitive grassroots football to take the time to read this guidance, prepare thoroughly and to adopt our recommended approach to phasing football back in. I would also like to thank you for playing your vital part in helping our great game to get going again.”
The full guidance document can be downloaded below, along with a short summary for all those involved in restarting activity.
GUIDANCE ON RE-STARTING OUTDOOR COMPETITIVE GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL - FOR LEAGUES
Guidance on re-starting outdoor competitive grassroots football - SUMMARY
Return of outdoor competitive grassroots football - FAQs
Football Activity Providers - COVID-19 Safeguarding Risk Assessment
First aid guidance for returning to outdoor competitive grassroots football
Football Activity guidance for facility providers
Women's football pyramid (tiers 3-6) guidance for returning to football
National League System Club guidance for returning to football
The Phased and Limited Return of Spectators - 19 AUGUST 2020
CLICK HERE FOR The FA Statement on 2019-21 Non-League, Women's & Grassroots Football Season
London FA’s policy is to follow Government, Public Health England, NHS and Football Association advice directly, with the priority being the health and wellbeing of all. We will continue to work closely with the grassroots game during this time.
The links to the latest updates and advice to the British public is copied at the links below:
PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND GUIDANCE
For any enquiries for London FA, in the first instance please CLICK HERE to visit our Freshdesk Solutions Hub.
If your enquiry is of a technical nature, please CLICK HERE to visit the FA Grassroots Technology Solutions Hub.
Our website contains many useful guides and Frequently Asked Question sections. For example see the following for any discipline or coach education queries:
For any queries that cannot be answered via our website, please email the relevant shared inbox and a member of the London FA team will come back to you. Our shared inboxes are as follows:
At London FA we have invested in a new email management system called Freshdesk, and this is now live across our discipline, coaching, refereeing and county cup platforms. This system allows us to set specific response deadlines for email queries and track progress in resolving queries.
Please do provide feedback on how this system is working, via the short email survey sent automatically to you once a query is resolved.
For any urgent queries we are still operating a skeleton customer service line, on our usual switchboard number. Please note that call waiting times may be extended at this point in time.
We recognise that the above will not necessarily provide you with the answers to the many questions you may have.
To support you with this we have developed a specific Covid-19 FAQ page, which covers a wide range of topics, from our coach education programme to our plans around the London County Cups.
Please visit this FAQ page here
View ‘A Message from the London FA CEO’ to members explaining the key changes to the business through the COVID-19 pandemic here