The Ebac Northern League held its annual general meeting online today.
Clubs were updated on the impact of the pandemic on the National League System (NLS).
It was announced that former Heaton Stannington secretary Ken Rodger has been awarded the Arthur Clark Memorial Trophy (see separate story).
Next year’s AGM will be held at Crook Town.
Clubs were updated on the situation regarding the Covid-19 virus and the resumption of non-league football following a virtual meeting organised by the FA involving Steps 5 & 6 leagues earlier this month:
Various scenarios have been drafted as to how and when the 20/21 season might start but they rely on Government giving the green light and the FA Executive is working closely with Government to identify the protocols that will allow the NLS to start.
With the FA facing a shortfall in income over the next four years, prize money for FA cup competitions, including the FA Cup and the Vase, will be reduced.
Games in the 20/21 season cannot start until matches can be played with spectators present.
Covid-19 Scenario Planning
Scenarios planned mean consideration is given to any start date up until January 2021, as full a season and as much inclusion in FA competitions as possible, taking into account clubs use of bar and food outlets, the impact on volunteers and players and officials’ other commitments post lockdown.
Potential fixture scheduling would see:
August start, usual season; September, still a full season if consideration is given to suspension of league and county cup competitions; October, a full season may still be possible with an extension into May; November, there may be still enough dates but would appear unsuitable due to lack of fall back dates and a tight schedule. Post November would involve a reduction in the number of games through sides playing either home or away, or splitting divisions either by geography or a draw.
Any later play would involve a revised tournament, such as a geographical competition from a mixture of steps or doubling the amount of divisions and halving fixtures and travel.
Other options being considered would involve playing behind closed doors with ‘streaming’ of matches or playing with restricted crowds but consideration needs to be given to sporting integrity and any potential local lock down or second spike considerations.
Covid-19: Club Guidance
Government guidance will be to give ‘direction’ to clubs on how to modify their club accordingly, as all clubs are different. Football activity guidance on how to return to training and competitive football, player welfare such as travel, welfare, equipment and medical/ physiotherapy advice driven by the FA medical team.
Facilities: training facilities and changing rooms, clubhouses/bars and spectator gatherings. Each club must undertake a risk assessment and or action plan on how it has modified and considered the implications of Covid-19 on their club. The club must publish this on their website, to give reassurance to other clubs they have made their club safe and notify the League they have published their guidance to ensure members have complied.
Grassroots guidance released via FA.com covers current Government guidance and will support initial thoughts while NLS club guidance will go beyond specific Government sport guidance and will get cross departmental approval from the medical, legal departments and the DCMS with an aim to get clubs preparing for a potential new season by the end of June.
The FA is aware of how Covid-19 has impacted on finances and has undertaken a large piece of work to understand the effect of a ‘no games’ scenario and is looking at ways with Government support and Sport England to support clubs.
The most delicate time for a club will when they return from ‘hibernation’ having lost money from the remaining games, no summer income and still have costs to modify their grounds.