New rules regarding the attending of mass events – which includes football matches – come into effect today, and fans aged 18 and over need to be aware of the new requirements under the Government’s ‘Plan B’ for dealing with COVID-19 over winter.
On Wednesday 8th December the Government announced its intention to move to “Plan B” in response to the Omicron variant. This means fans will need a “vaccine passport” or negative test in order to access large sporting events.
Three-quarters (74.8%) of fans intend to return to stadiums from the first fixture in August, with two-thirds of supporters (65.2%) describing themselves as ‘excited’ and four in ten (41.7%) ‘optimistic’ about a return to grounds next season according to the results of an FSA survey.
For many fans the beginning of the 2021-22 season will mark the first time that they have been in a stadium for more than 18 months, and so the FSA are canvassing opinion on how supporters feel about returning to grounds.
It’s now been more than one year since COVID-19 first hit and the football calendar changed dramatically. Supporters haven’t been in grounds since November 2020 and it’s likely that, even with a return to some form of normality, restrictions will be in place next season too.
The FA confirmed on Friday that the season for clubs at Step 2 of non-league (National League North and South) has been declared null and void, while the National League season at Step 1 will be played to a conclusion, with no promotion and relegation between the two tiers.
Clubs at Steps 3 to 6 of non-league have received some clarity on their future, following the FA’s decision to curtail the 2020-21 season with immediate effect, but uncertainty remains at National League North and South level, where a group of clubs have launched a legal challenge to the league’s decision to declare the season null and void.
In a letter to the FSA, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has confirmed that ‘at no stage’ did the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) offer ongoing to support to the National League only in the form of grants.
Over the last 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been producing and updating guidance for community-owned clubs as new government schemes for coping with the shutdown and its associated effects were announced.
Earlier this week the government announced that clubs at Steps 3 to 6 of non-league would benefit from up to £10 million in grant funding to support them through the shutdown imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government is facing growing calls from National League clubs to provide ongoing pandemic support in the form of grants, rather than the loans that have been promised under the Government’s Sports Winter Survival Package. Rather than become further indebted to play matches behind closed doors, there’s a growing fear that clubs could refuse to complete the season at the top levels of non-league as a result.
Against a backdrop of the national lockdown, the Trident Leagues at Steps 3 and 4 (Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian) have indicated a preference to cancel all remaining league fixtures. They are surveying their member clubs for their views on whether to continue with the 2020/21 season.
Throughout the first national lockdown in the spring of 2020 we produced and updated guidance regularly as new government schemes for coping with the shutdown and its associated effects were announced.