Crown green bowls leagues hoping for May start

Hopes remain high of staging a competitive crown green bowling season around the Fylde coast this year, though it is not expected to start early next month as planned.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 4:49 pm

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The 19 leagues around the Fylde coast are awaiting guidance from the British Crown Green Bowling Association (BCGBA), who in turn are waiting on information from the government’s Department of Culture Media and Sport.

After the pandemic saw the whole 2020 season scrapped, any hopes of a return to normal for 2021 appears over-optimistic. However, Peter Jose, chairman of the Fylde Amateur Bowling Association (the coast’s elite league), hopes to stage a competitive season for those wishing to play.

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It is hoped that the Fleetwood Bowls Festival could return this summer

He told The Gazette: “We are hoping to start from May 17, when private clubs are allowed to open. I don’t think we can start in April because the ‘rule of six’ would apply. And we would need to provide toilet facilities, though private clubs would still be closed.

“From May 17, when groups of up to 30 can hopefully start to gather outdoors, we’d like to think we’ll be in a position to start playing competitively. But we’re waiting to hear from the BCGBA and that could take another couple of weeks.”

Jose says it is vital to take a “commonsense approach”, which respects the views of those who do not feel safe returning to greens this year as well as those who do.

He added: “We’ve agreed that any clubs who don’t want to play this year will still be in the same division for 2022.

“Where teams tell us they really can’t raise a team this year, then we look forward to hopefully welcoming them back in 2022. We will not pressurise anybody to play.”

Peter can’t speak for all the leagues but is involved with several and said: “I do speak to a lot of leagues and quite a few do want to play, so hopefully we will all sing from the same hymnsheet.

“In the Fylde Veterans’ League we are looking at playing half a season, though it looks like the Fleetwood Men’s League won’t play this year.

“An alternative is to play friendlies, with no promotion or relegation, no prizemoney and no fees. That’s something we’re talking about. We want clubs who want to play to have the opportunity to do so.”

The situation should become clearer in the coming weeks and Peter is hopeful of reviving the Fleetwood Bowls Festival this summer.

He added: “The greens I’ve seen are in excellent condition despite there being no leagues last year. People have worked on them as though we will play this year and clubs have maintained the greens well.”

The latest statement from the BCGBA, issued last Wednesday, reads: “We have today received an update from Sport England on the easing of restrictions on organised grassroot outdoor sports, scheduled to resume on March 29.

“They are still waiting for the overarching guidance from the Cabinet Office and the sport specific guidance that is likely to be released ahead of March 29. Unfortunately, they do not expect a more specific sport/activity related guidance to be released for a couple of weeks.”

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