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Grassroots footballers in Norfolk are poised for a return to the fields

PUBLISHED: 11:42 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:42 17 July 2020

Norfolk footballers could be back out on the pitch soon Picture: Ronnie Heyhoe

Norfolk footballers could be back out on the pitch soon Picture: Ronnie Heyhoe

Archant

Thousands of Norfolk footballers could be given a welcome boost in coming days as the grassroots game prepares for a return to the pitch.

The Football Association have prepared proposals which have reportedly met with approval from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which would see the return of all 11-a-side matches.

The DCMS is said to be happy with the FA’s safeguards against the spread of Covid-19, which brought the game to a halt in March.

And while final details are still being worked out, it could be approved in the coming week, meaning a return to training and possibly matches as early as next weekend.

“We are now working to submit a comprehensive action plan and related guidance for Government approval as outlined in DCMS’s publication,” say the FA. “In the meantime, competitive grassroots football can prepare to return and look forward to the start of the new season.”

The plans could affect 102,000 grassroots teams and 1.4million players across the country.

There will be strict guidelines in place, which include players being unable to share cramped dressing rooms or showers after matches. There would be no handshakes, no spitting, regularly disinfected footballs and socially-distanced spectating.

The next step is the return of competitive football, which would only go ahead if the FA, leagues and clubs are certain that all regulations are being adhered to.

No date has been set for the start of the next football season, at any level of the game.

It is thought that September 12 is the most likely date.

Meanwhile, the FA have finally rubber-stamped the National League’s decision over play-offs and its promotion and relegation issues - which confirms King’s Lynn Town go up as champions of National League North.

In a statement the FA said: “The FA Council has ratified both the National League’s proposal on concluding the 2019/20 season at Steps 1 and 2 of the National League System [NLS] and the required amendments to the NLS Regulations and Standardised Rules for it to become effective.

“The ratification follows a recommendation from the FA’s Alliance Leagues Committee and allows the National League to: rank clubs on a points per game basis; apply the automatic promotion and relegation based on the position of clubs on that basis; and proceed with play-off matches in accordance with the Government’s Return to Domestic Competition guidance.”


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