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Non-league and grassroots football in Suffolk set to be halted due to new Covid-19 rules

PUBLISHED: 11:04 01 November 2020 | UPDATED: 18:04 01 November 2020

A happy scene: Harry Knights and Liam Jackson celebrate Leiston'’s second goal, in the FA Trophy tie against Worthing yesterday. Unfortunately, it is set to be the last weekend for several weeks when non-league football can take place below Step 2. Picture: HANNAH PARNELL

A happy scene: Harry Knights and Liam Jackson celebrate Leiston'’s second goal, in the FA Trophy tie against Worthing yesterday. Unfortunately, it is set to be the last weekend for several weeks when non-league football can take place below Step 2. Picture: HANNAH PARNELL

Archant

Non-league football, below Step Two, looks set to be halted from this Thursday onwards until at least the next four weeks, into early December,

Carlos Edwards brings the ball under control during Bury Town's 2-2 home draw against Romford this weekend. Non-league football below Step Two is set to be put on hold from Thursday for the next month, at least. Picture: NEIL DADYCarlos Edwards brings the ball under control during Bury Town's 2-2 home draw against Romford this weekend. Non-league football below Step Two is set to be put on hold from Thursday for the next month, at least. Picture: NEIL DADY

While elite football, from the National League South/North level upwards, will be allowed to continue behind closed doors with no supporters, all other non-league and grassroots football will almost certainly have to be put on hold due to new Covid-19 restrictions.

This week’s midweek fixtures, on Tuesday and Wednesday, will still take place, because the new national lockdown does not kick in until Thursday. The new measures will be in place until at least December 2,

Obviously this will be a hammer blow to non-league clubs throughout Suffolk, who had waited patiently to start their new 2020-21 campaigns at the beginning of September following the easing of the old restrictions.

The 2019-20 campaigns were declared null and void for leagues below Step Two, and there must now be a fear that in the worst scenario the various leagues, such as the Southern League, Isthmian League and Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League, could be faced with a similar prospect if the new lockdown measures are extended beyond December and well into next year.

Social distancing being adhered to during Bury Town's opening game of the season, at Cogenhoe United in the FA Cup. Picture: CARL MARSTONSocial distancing being adhered to during Bury Town's opening game of the season, at Cogenhoe United in the FA Cup. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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The Football Association has made only a brief comment so far, in response to the new lockdown measures which will be implemented on Thursday.

The FA confirmed: ‘We acknowledge the government’s announcement today regarding COVID-19 restrictions and are awaiting further information before we can confirm how this may affect non-elite football across England.’

However, a halting of non-league football appears inevitable, given that people are being urged ‘to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave, such as work which cannot be done from home and education.’

Moreover, people will only be allowed ‘to exercise outdoors alone, with their household or with one other person.’

The government yesterday confirmed that leisure centres and gyms will have to close, as will other sporting facilities such as swimming pools and golf courses.

It looks like it could be bleak winter ahead, then, for non-league football across the region, with stadiums set to close again and revenue drying up completely.

There is also the added concern about what a return to a national lockdown, with the cessation of non-league and grassroots football for the foreseeable future, will have on people’s physical and mental health.


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