20 December 2021
The FA has just released the latest Covid Guidance for National League Football and in this fast moving situation, further updates will be provided as and when received from the DCMS/FA. The TWL would like to take the opportunity to expand the advice, specifically for Managers and players.
We are all personally accountable for our actions in this current challenging situation and it is important, especially in this time of year, that you all stay safe by following the Government Guidance .
If you have been vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine, you are less likely to become severely ill and you are also less likely to spread Covid-19 to other people, so everyone is encouraged to have their inoculations as soon as they are allowed.
The FA have maintained their stance that the playing of football is safe and unlikely to lead to the transfer of the virus, but it is the associated situations, namely the changing rooms and bar areas that create the largest challenge for clubs to mitigate the risk.
The main point of this advice is to reduce the potential for players having to self isolate for 10 days, meaning time off work and putting their families at risk.
Each club or venue will have their own specific Risk Assessment to mitigate the risk of Covid and everyone is requested to check and accept the limitations applied.
This is a great opportunity for managers to demonstrate their leadership and management skills to try and ensure that all of the players and staff members, under their custody, receive good advice and the maximum protection. With their responsibility in maintaining the teams’ fitness and health they should consider the following:
Instigate a Lateral Flow Device test (LFD) protocol before each training session and each game. This can be in the form of evidence from a Home test or an actual test prior to the start, any positive indications can be dealt with before any risk of close contact, thereby reducing the potential of all team members having to self isolate.
Changing rooms provide a great risk of transmission and therefore it is important that where possible minimal numbers are maintained within the room and they are only used if essential, doing so as quickly as possible. Try to factor staggering the use, to minimise numbers and consider ensuring masks being worn to reduce the risk.
Where possible seek alternative spaces for team meetings, which should only include the manager and starting 11, consider ensuring masks being worn to reduce the risk and achieve the maximum ventilation as possible (such as opening windows and doors).
Reduce the risk of passing the infection, by identifying high-contact touch points for more regular cleaning, reducing the need to share objects, maintain rigorous and thorough cleaning procedures, cleaning of any shared training equipment after each individual use.
If a member does test positive on a LFD they should submit the LFD result to the NHS, the club via the manager and then arrange to have a PCR test as soon as possible. If anyone has been identified as being in close contact, they should also be advised to take a LFD test and to self isolate as required by the Government Guidance . Anyone receiving a text/email from the NHS service advising them of a positive test should forward a copy to the club via the manager and the league.
When arranging travel suggest everyone wears a mask on the bus or maintain small groups (bubbles) who always travel together by car.
Each player is obviously responsible for their own health but they must follow the Government Guidance, because remember it is not just your team mates but also your family members and work colleagues who could be at risk.
It is clear that the use of masks will reduce risks to both yourselves and those around you, and whilst you do not need to wear a mask when playing football, you are encouraged and should consider wearing a mask in an enclosed environment (changing rooms, bar, travel etc), where there is a risk of extended close contact.
Prior to attending a game or training session consider completing a personal LFD test, which also may be mandated by your club’s Risk Assessment.
If you do receive a LFD positive test, report the fact to the NHS site and the club via the manager. You must arrange to have a PCR test as soon as possible and then when you receive contact from the NHS informing you of the result, you must again inform the club via the manager.
You may be informed by the Club to self isolate due to close contact, so you must then stay at home, following the instructions within the Government Guidance.
Football Winter Survival Fund (12th Feb 2021)
In order to assist those clubs who may need some more time in preparing their application, I am pleased to announce, that following FA conversations with Sport England, the closing date for applications has been pushed back and will now close on Wednesday, 17th February at 11pm
As a reminder if any club is requiring assistance, please direct them to the FAQ page on the fund website or email firstname.lastname@example.org – The FA Club Consultants are also on hand to assist and support clubs too.
If you have not already applied we would urge you to do so. These are grants not loans.
National League System Step 3 to 6 update (12th Feb 2021)
We wish to provide the following update to Clubs in relation to the potential continuation or curtailment of the 2020/21 season at Steps 3 to 6 of the National League System (NLS).
The Alliance Committee (Steps 3 & 4) and Leagues Committee (Steps 5 & 6) met on 8 and 9 February, respectively, to discuss the data that was collated following the recent surveys circulated to Clubs at this level of the game.
During discussions, the Committees acknowledged the likelihood that the Prime Minister will set out a ‘roadmap’ to the nation on 22 February as to how Government intend to begin to reduce the current COVID-19 restrictions.
Given that any such update from the Government on 22 February may provide the Committees with additional, relevant information to help determine the preferred route forward, they have agreed to reconvene after this date.
In addition, the Alliance Committee are also conscious of the ongoing process the National League (Steps 1 & 2) are undertaking and the potential impact this could have on any actions the Committee may choose to take.
We will provide an update in due course.
On behalf of the Alliance and Leagues Committees
Winter Survival Fund (28th January 2021)
Eligible clubs can apply for support to help with key expenditure such as lease or mortgage payments, debt or loan repayments, utility costs, insurance, essential pitch and stadium maintenance, non-playing staff that haven’t been furloughed or Covid-19 compliance measures.
For information, the DCMS statement on the fund can be found here.
An Update From The FA (4th January 2021)
An update for ‘non-elite’ football in England following latest COVID-19 restrictions.
We note the UK Government’s announcement this evening with regards to the new national COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown. As a result, the impact on ‘non elite’ football in England will include the suspension of fixtures and training across the following, with immediate effect:
• Steps three to six of the National League System (NLS)
• Tiers three to seven of the Women’s Football Pyramid
• Regional NLS feeder leagues
• Barclays FA WSL Academy League (unless under elite status)
• FA Girls Regional Talent Clubs (unless under elite status)
• All indoor and outdoor youth and adult grassroots football, including under 18s (except organised outdoor football for disabled people which is allowed to continue)
• Vitality Women’s FA Cup (which is currently classified as ‘non-elite’ at this stage in the competition)
It is extremely important that clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents, carers and facility providers adhere to the UK Government’s new national COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and we implore everyone to follow these.
Dialogue will continue with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, leagues, competitions and County FAs and we will provide further updates for the 2020/21 Vitality Women’s FA Cup, Buildbase FA Vase and ‘non-elite’ football when relevant.
We would like to thank the football community once again for its hard work, resilience and understanding during such an incredibly challenging period for both the game and wider society.
Toolstation Western League Suspended
The Toolstation Western League has suspended League fixtures until January 22nd, pending the next Government review of the Local Authority Tier system. The Western League Board had been working with Clubs that wanted to continue playing to create a fixture list that facilitated games to take place. However, with Somerset put into Tier 4, where playing non-league football is not allowed, the Board felt it was not appropriate to continue playing matches until the Coronavirus situation across the leagues area had improved.
The next review of Local Authority Tiers is scheduled to take place on January 13th, following which the Western League Board will review their position regarding League fixtures. However, the League have reassured Clubs that whatever the outcome of the next review, they will be given a reasonable notice period, meaning that fixtures cannot resume until Saturday, January 23rd at the earliest.
The Toolstation Western League acknowledge the government’s announcement yesterday regarding COVID-19 restrictions and are awaiting further informationfrom The Football Association before we can confirm how this may affect Toolstation Western League football.
We will communicate any necessary updates in due course.
COVID-19 League Suspension Survey
As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, the Board of the Toolstation Western League is concerned that this situation might impact on the ability to complete the 2020/21 football season. In order to fully understand the situation from the perspective of member Clubs, the Board worked with Cognisant Research, a Market Research Society Company Partner, to undertake a short survey.
The full survey can be viewed by clicking here.
COVID-19 BEST PRACTICE
The Toolstation Western League Board would like to thank the hard-working volunteers who at times have a thankless task for their valued contribution to their clubs, during these unprecedented circumstances and acknowledges that we are all experiencing a learning process. It is recognised that clubs have worked extremely hard to adapt their facilities in line with Government and FA guidelines. If you need any additional advice; please contact George McCaffery, the TWL COVID Coordinator. To read more click here.
COVID-19 POSTPONEMENT UPDATE
The Toolstation Western League would like to clarify their position regarding the pandemic and how we can continue to safely play football. This procedure is followed for all cases and the club’s Risk Assessment should reflect this.
Clubs will contact the TWL COVID Officer when someone at the Club has symptoms and has or will take an NHS Test, the person must immediately self isolate. The TWL will require a copy of the test result, either positive or negative.
To read more click here.
What happens if a player tests positive for Covid-19?
If there is a player who has tested positive, they must from that point self-isolate (or if they have symptoms, from the moment of symptoms) and NHS Test and Trace will pick up from this point. The player should contact NHS 111.
NHS Test and Trace will send a text, email alert or call with instructions of how to share details of people with whom there has been close, recent contact and places visited. It is important that the player responds quickly and accurately so that the NHS can give appropriate advice to those who need it.
The Club can carry on, but be mindful to ensure all the guidelines are strictly followed on social distancing, hand washing etc. If Test and Trace contact them, they must provide the details and then if deemed necessary, anyone needs to isolate on their instruction, do so.
What happens if I have played an opposition team and one of their players has tested positive for Covid-19?
Matchplay is not considered ‘close contact’ so no action is needed unless individuals experience symptoms or have not followed match day protocols, in which case they must self-isolate from that point as per Government guidance.
What is self-isolation?
‘Self-isolation if you have symptoms’ means you and all household members must remain at home. Do not go outside your home for any reason that is to work, school or public areas and do not use public transport or taxis.
If told to begin self-isolation for 14 days from your last contact with the person who has the symptoms or tested positive, it is really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell because, if you have been infected, you could become infectious to others at any point up to 14 days. Failure to self-isolate for the full time-period can result in a fine, starting from £1,000. Your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you if you do not have symptoms, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and hand washing and avoid contact with you at home
What is contact?
‘Contact’ means a person who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus and who may or may not live with them. In the TWL this would be a teammate if you have not followed the match day or training session protocols.
If any player, supporter, Club or Match Official has any concerns about how a Club is implementing its Covid-19 Risk Assessment they should initially raise the issue with a Club Official, either in person at the game or via email. If you remain unsatisfied with the response you can escalate your concern with the Western League Covid Officer, George McCaffery. Club’s Risk Assessments can be found below.
COVID19 Update for all Playing Staff
This information is supplied to protect you, your friends and family. Your Club has invested a great deal of time, effort and money to increase your safety at the games, so please follow the guidance when you are training, travelling and playing.
- The maximum number of individuals entering, identified by the Home Club, must be adhered to at all times, with everyone practicing 2 meter social distancing.
- If the 2 meter rule cannot be maintained, you must clean your hands before entering and when leaving. Everyone MUST wear a face covering.
- Team briefings indoors should only involve essential people for the minimum time.
- Music MUST NOT be played in the changing rooms.
- Please leave the rooms as tidy as you found them. Remember the volunteer cleaner has to deal with any mess you leave along with the associated increased risk.
- Before and after the match everyone should practise 2 meter social distancing, where this is not possible face coverings must be worn.
- Players should not be in a group huddle prior to kick-off and should not group celebrate a goal in a huddle.
- Substitutes and coaches must socially distance in the dugout, the areas have been extended to enable this and if you cannot achieve the social distance then face coverings must be worn.
- The sharing of equipment must be avoided if possible. Where equipment is shared it must be cleaned before and after use.
- Travel to training and matches independently if possible. If this is not possible share the transport with the same people each time and wear a face covering.
- Wear face coverings on coaches or minibuses and clean your hands before entering and when leaving the vehicle.
Hopefully you, your Club and the League will be able to complete this challenging season, but remember:
- If you test positive for coronavirus you need to self isolate for 10 days.
- If you have had a close contact with someone who has coronavirus you will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self isolate for 14 days
The FA has issued the statement below concerning the Government Tier Alert System:
You will be aware of the Government introducing a new tier system of medium, high and very high (1, 2 and 3).
The FA have released a statement which is here: www.thefa.com/news/2020/oct/16/football-guidance-update-161020
Additionally, we have requested clarity from Government on travel into or out of areas with ‘very high’ (tier 3) local COVID alert levels by players/staff in Steps 3-6 of the National League System and DCMS have confirmed, in collaboration with the FA, that player travel for these fixtures is within the guidelines.
However, we ask that spectators follow the Government guidance and do not travel into or out of ‘Very High’ Tier 3 areas.
The FA statement will be updated to reflect this shortly.
LONGWELL GREEN SPORTS
ODD DOWN (BATH)
ROMAN GLASS ST GEORGE