Yesterday the government reviewed the tiering restrictions in place across the country which resulted in changes to all the North West County FA’s.
The following information applies to Grassroots Football at NLS Feeder Leagues (Step 7) and below and applies to all member clubs and leagues affiliated or sanctioned by County FA’s in Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire, Westmorland, Cumberland and Liverpool.
We continue to recognise the challenges that the Covid pandemic presents and fully appreciate and thank all our volunteers involved in the grassroots game across the North West for all your hard work throughout 2020.
The following defines which local authorities are aligned to which regions and which Tier they are now in:
Lancashire – All Tier 4
Cheshire – All Tier 4
Greater Manchester - All Tier 4
Cumbria - All Tier 4
All Tier 3
Blackburn with Darwen
Cheshire West & Chester
Barrow in Furness
• From the updated guidance provided adult clubs, teams and individuals (Players, Coaches and Spectators) cannot continue to play or train in Tier 4 and the game is therefore suspended. Those in Liverpool City Region (Merseyside) may continue, but those involved are not to move in or out of their Tier 3 region to participate.
For absolute clarity the above means that travel is NOT permitted from Liverpool City Region (Merseyside) to any of the other North West Regions.
Youth Football (Under 18’s), Including Disability Football
• With regards to youth football (Under 18’s) and all disability football. There have been changes for all those regions now in Tier 4 and these are detailed below, specifically in relation to movement/travel of youth teams, players, coaches and or volunteers (including parents).
• The government’s Tier 4 guidance states organised outdoor sport for under-18s and disabled people will be allowed, while there are exemptions for FA Girls' Regional Talent Clubs. The government’s guidelines on travel between tiers should be adhered to. These players now cannot move in or out of their Tier 4 region to train or play.
For absolute clarity the above means that travel is NOT permitted between all regions in the North West. Under 18’s must play only within the region that they reside. For example; Those players and volunteers who live in Greater Manchester, must play only in Greater Manchester and cannot travel to another region such as Cheshire or Liverpool and vice versa. This also means that regions such as Derbyshire, Staffordshire for example cannot travel into a North West region to play.
It is extremely important that clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents, carers, and facility providers continue to strictly follow both the UK Government's latest guidance on COVID-19 and respective bespoke guidance documents from The FA. Failure to adhere to the guidance will result in sanctions for non-compliance.
• Match Officials are exempt and are free to travel within the tiers.
It is imperative that everyone involved in the grassroots game continues to be vigilant and follows the governments restrictions and the guidance set in place by the Football Association. For the avoidance of any doubt, any teams where it is found that Players, Coaches, Volunteers or Spectators are not adhering to the government restrictions and FA guidance will face sanctions for non-compliance, including removal of fixtures.
Under 18’s, including disability football and other sporting activities are permitted despite wider restrictions because of the benefits of sport and physical activity for people’s physical and mental wellbeing. If people act irresponsibly when participating in grassroots football (including off the pitch, and when socialising before and after activity) they jeopardize public health and undermine the case for safe sport to take place.
If there are serious or consistent concerns with non-compliance of COVID guidelines at grassroots football which fail to be addressed, then the government may revoke the ability for grassroots football to take place. We cannot stress enough the critical importance of all involved in the game complying with the guidance to allow the grassroots game to continue. Our key guidance in the North West is as follows:
• Social distancing wherever possible for players, and always in the case of spectators
• Robust hygiene standards as per risk assessments but including the wearing of masks in toilet blocks etc.
• Effective registering of attendees primarily via the NHS Test and Trace QR code system
• Strongly recommend at all youth games a maximum of one accompanying adult per child, wherever possible
National League System & Women’s Football Pyramid
Football for adult participants across ‘non-elite’ football in Tier 4 regions is not permitted, including all training and fixtures. This immediate advice in place from 31 December applies to the following aspects of ‘non-elite’ football in England in Tier 4 areas:
- 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 guidance)
- Vitality Women’s FA Cup (which is currently classified as ‘non-elite’ at this stage in the competition)
This joint statement is based on the current position and we will continue to review in line with any government tier reviews.
We appreciate the complexities that the continuous changes have made and wish again to thank you all for the tremendous work that you continue to do and have undertaken throughout the most unprecedented year of 2020. We wish to take the opportunity to wish everyone the very best for what we hope will be a much more prosperous 2021.
Please take care and stay safe.
Simon Gerrard Colin Bridgford Mike Watson
CEO – Lancashire FA CEO – Manchester FA CEO – Cheshire FA
Dave Pugh Jo Ashworth Ben Snowdon
CEO – Liverpool FA CEO – Westmorland CEO – Cumberland