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The return to football


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Bedfont & Feltham Football & Social Club

The return to football

As one lockdown finishes, London goes back into Tier 2 from 2nd December. 
The Combined Counties Football League has been in consultation with the FA, other Step 5 & 6 leagues and member clubs to come to an amicable arrangement for the resumption of football. 

Each club was given a number of options bearing in mind that due to lockdown conditions, bars cannot open unless they're using table service and serving a hot meal with a knife and fork. 

"The League recognises that bar income is a major source of revenue for most of our clubs so, in the absence of specific instructions from the FA, leagues need to make their own decisions.  There are only three choices and there have already been diverse comments from some clubs:

1.  we close the League down until sanity reigns again.

2.  we say we are carrying on as we are with a full fixture list (which one league at least intends to do) and advise clubs accordingly, with all the complaints and difficulties that will then arise.

3.  we seek some form of middle way which allows matches to continue but allows those clubs who really feel they cannot play home games to stop doing so.  What that might mean for you when we get towards the end of the season, who knows:  it obviously depends upon when matters change.  The season is likely to extend through to the end of May.

The truth is that nothing is ideal but as a League we will apply option 3 if possible and this is what has been decided."

The options regarding home matches were:

1.  Clubs will need to decide whether or not they are willing to continue to play HOME matches in December, given the restrictions upon the use of their clubhouse, although we would hope that all clubs will feel they can carry on through December at least.  This question will then be asked on a monthly basis for as long as the situation lasts.   If any genuinely feel they cannot continue to play at home either now or in future months, due to the cost of staging matches, they will be able to opt out of their home fixtures with the matter being reviewed every month.

2.  Clubs will continue to play their away matches in all cases where the home club has said it wishes to continue with its home matches.  The thinking behind this is that when playing away, whilst expenditure is still incurred, you do not have to pay match officials’ fees, nor add to your water/gas/electricity spending, etc.Obviously if you pay your players, that is no different to playing at home but maybe there needs to be a reality check amongst the expectations of your players given the unprecedented position we are in.  Overall though, it is cheaper to play away.

As stated, decisions will have to be made on a monthly basis as we obviously cannot allow anyone to “cherry pick” their fixtures.  Also, any decision not to play home matches needs to be for all home matches within the month concerned.  It is not really acceptable for a club to say they can play at home in a County Cup match for example, but then say they can’t play a home league match.

3.  Where a club is left without a match because their opponents have opted not to play at home, efforts will be made to give the club an alternative game if there are sufficient home venues available.  Sometimes this will be possible, sometimes it won't but it will involve some fixture changes at quite short notice and everyone needs to accept this will be the case.

Bedfont & Feltham's management committee has advised the league that we're willing to play home matches throughout December and will now await the revised fixture bulletin which is due to be published on Monday evening, 30th November. Once this has been received, I will post the fixtures for December on our website and on Social Media. 

If we have a home match on a Saturday during lockdown (December for now, as this is being reviewed on a month-by-month basis), we intend to open the clubhouse between 2pm and 7pm where hot meals will be available to be purchased alongside alcoholic beverages. The NHS Test and Trace system will be in use, in conjunction with social distancing as per government regulations. 

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I'd like to think most clubs would approach this with a 'can do' attitude and give it a go in December and see what happens. From what I've seen, attendances had been higher in the first couple of months, so hopefully clubs made a bit more than usual then, and if players are realistic about what they can expect to be (or not be) paid, then I would have thought the situation is achievable until conditions change.

What are the thoughts on the ground from those involved with clubs?

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Colliers Wood United are playing a friendly against up and coming Sunday League outfit CF Real Morden tonight at Wibbandune at 7.30pm

All welcome to attend.

We travel to Molesey on Saturday at 3pm.

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