FA lay down ground rules for return of Fylde coast football next week

New guidance from the FA paves the way for grassroots football clubs to resume training and games outdoors from  next week.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 8:00 am

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Season over for Blackpool non-league clubs

Updated guidelines from the governing body apply to all formats of the game for adults and juniors and come into effect from Monday, when the government is set to ease lockdown restrictions.

For Fylde coast football, this means that non-league clubs Squires Gate and AFC Blackpool can begin to prepare for next month’s Prestwich Heys Invitational Tournament.

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Squires Gate are set to stage matches in the Prestwich Heys Invitational tournament next month

This offers some competitive football for North West Counties Football League clubs after the decision to curtail their league season was ratified by the FA.

Below NWCFL level, amateur and youth football may resume, with the possibility of extending the season until the end of June.

The Blackpool and Fylde Sunday Alliance intends to do just that, with matches resuming on Easter Day, April 4.

The FA stated: “As organised sport can resume, all participants may travel to games but should avoid travel at the busiest times and routes, as well as minimising any unnecessary journeys where possible. All participants must follow the government’s guidance on safer travel.

“Changing rooms must remain shut. Toilets will be allowed to open 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after training and/or matches. All government guidance on hygiene and social distancing measures must be followed.

“No spectators are allowed at grassroots football as part of step one of the government’s roadmap. One parent or guardian per child is permitted, where clubs and facilities can safely accommodate this and following all appropriate guidance.”

The FA stress that the only indoor football allowed to resume is for disabled players. All other indoor football cannot restart before April 12 for juniors and before May 17 for adults.

Financial assistance from Sport England will help county FAs to offer discounts on affiliation for next season.

The FA states: “This will be available across the whole of affiliated football, assisting everyone with getting back to the game they love, and especially those from under-represented areas of the game such as women and girls, lower socio-economic groups, minority groups and those with a disability.

“We, alongside Sport England, strongly encourage all of those restarting in the weeks ahead to ensure that everyone is able to benefit, no matter their age or gender, from fair and equal access to playing opportunities.”

The Return to Football Fund will also provide £2.1m of Lottery money to support people from low participation groups to play the game.

The £14m Grass Pitch Maintenance Fund is providing six-year grants to improve pitches, while the Small Grants Fund can help clubs to purchase essential equipment.

Clubs can apply for up to £25,000 to refurbish changing rooms or pay for pitch drainage/maintenance, goalposts and portable floodlights.

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