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Football Association confirm NLP’s prediction for September start!

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Football Association bosses have confirmed they are actively planning for Non-League’s return from the coronavirus to start from as early as September.

The game’s governing body issued fresh guidance documents for clubs in the National League System this weekend after the Government gave competitive grassroots football the green light to return on Friday.

As The NLP exclusively reported last Sunday, the FA have turned their hopes for the game’s early return into an action plan for a phased return by clubs and competitions within hours of it being signed off by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The FA’s plans – including a target date for the Extra-preliminary Round of the FA Cup to kick-off on September 1 – are still subject to further easing of lockdown measures and fans being allowed to return.

The plans were made public on the FA’s website on Saturday as The NLP prepares to reveal the results of its nationwide ‘return to football’ survey in partnership with the Football Supporters’ Association.

Set to be published in Sunday’s NLP, the results of the biggest survey in football since the coronavirus lockdown will then be delivered to the Football Association, leagues and other key stakeholders as they plan the game’s return.

The FA statement read: “We can confirm that the UK Government approved our plan for the return of outdoor competitive 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.

“We’ve been working hard over recent weeks to prepare guidelines for the safe return of grassroots football and, following Government approval, these are now ready for publication.

“Football activity can take place with necessary modifications in place to mitigate the transmission risk of COVID-19.
“We 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 our full guidelines, which are accessible below, in addition to the latest Government guidance on COVID-19.”

To read the full FA statement, click here.

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