In response to the government’s latest announcement that secondary schools in England will undertake a phased return in January, the ESFA Emergency Committee has convened and decided to delay the start of English Schools’ FA Cup competitions until after February half term for schools and just before February half term for association representative team competitions. The ESFA believes it would be appropriate and supportive for schools to be given the opportunity to return to school life and for the Covid testing scheme to be implemented within schools, before commencing with ESFA National Cup fixtures.
An updated date structure has been sent to all competing teams and the ESFA website has been updated to reflect the revised deadline dates for each round of the competitions.
Schools and associations are permitted to continue with any planned fixtures upon returning in January should they choose, provided both teams are in agreement to do so and a robust risk assessment allows for the activity to take place. For more information relating to the latest guidance regarding returning to football and a Covid specific risk assessment template, please click here . You can find the ESFA’s general risk assessment template here.
To help with your plans for football, we are re-sharing the headline outcomes of some research undertaken on behalf of The Football Association and the Premier League (below), with regard to the incidences of COVID in football. You may find this useful when conducting your risk assessments or when sharing your plans/decisions with headteachers, governors, parents or committee members:
“Dr Charlotte Cowie (Head of Performance Medicine) has provided some evidence below for the safety of football with regard to Covid-19 transmission.
- The PL and the FA collaborated in a study where GPS data from over 200 PL matches was analysed. The study showed that on average, the amount of time that any one player is within 2m of any other player is less than 90 seconds. This finding has now been supported by studies in Germany and Denmark.
- In the study, examples of situations in which contact occurred included: Set plays, pauses in the match where players come to the touchline to talk, pauses in the match where players engage with each other or the referee on-pitch and goal celebrations. Caution with these elements of the game will help to decrease contact further without affecting general play.
- This evidence is from professional football but even if contact in Grassroots football was twice that in the professional game (which seems unlikely), this would still only equate to 180 seconds.
- Since Project Restart, the monitoring of regular Covid19 testing in the PL and WSL has confirmed that whilst there are positive tests, there are no examples of on-pitch transmission. When investigated, transmission at clubs is related to poor compliance with off-pitch protocols, particularly around shared facilities and equipment such as gyms, changing rooms and transport. This is why it is so important that off-pitch protocols are strictly followed.
- We have no examples of transmission from one player to an opposing player.”
The full draws can be viewed at www.esfa.co.uk/competitions
We hope that this news will help you with your planning and we take this opportunity to wish you a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year.
The National Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England.