The Toolstation Western League hope to conclude the 2019/20 Les Phillips Cup competition, before the start of the 2021/22 season. Given the Government’s announcement that outdoor sport can restart from March 29th, it is hoped that sufficient time remains to complete the outstanding semi-finals and final fixtures. The Board also welcome the FA’s intention to complete this seasons FA Vase competition.
The Board understand that formally organised outdoor sports, for adults and under 18s, should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies. When the Football Association has clarified how our member Club facilities can be brought back into use, including safe access to changing rooms, the return of spectators and opportunities for secondary spend, the League will consult with those Clubs remaining in our League Cup competition to assess how the Les Phillips Cup can be completed.
The Board have considered a number of detailed options for organising a regionalised tournament in what would have been the remaining weeks of the 2020/21 season. Central to our decision-making process was the pre-condition that Clubs should only be asked to play if they are able to admit paying spectators and able to access secondary income streams such as bar income. Current Government guidance concerning the hospitality industry has consistently guided supporter access to Clubhouses. We understand that the table service only restriction will still apply, both outdoors from April 12th and indoors from May 17th and that managing this restriction represents a considerable challenge for some of our Clubs. Given the current lack of Covid guidance concerning the return of spectators, as well as member Clubs current involvement in both the Les Phillips Cup and FA Vase competitions, the Board do not believe it is feasible to organise an additional tournament at this time.
As with pre-season preparation matches, Clubs are welcome to arrange their own fixtures as they see fit. However, the Board strongly urge all Western League Clubs that any footballing activity undertaken between now and the start on the 2021/22 season must be compliant with both Government and Football Association guidance.