As your Board, responsible for the administration and provision of football for the YEL, the largest U7s to U14s league in the country, where, at a conservative estimate, 30,000 personal interactions take place each weekend, we believe we have a moral duty to share our concerns over how we feel that our sport is out of step with the current Government guidance.

Whilst the Government is legally enforcing the ‘Rule of Six’ – six people meeting in either home or an open-air environment; limiting weddings to just 15 people and funerals to 30, we are still witnessing regular occurrences of 30 plus people standing on touchlines shoulder to shoulder and queuing for tea bars/club kitchens with little or no social distancing or face coverings being in evidence.

We are desperate to keep our clubs and teams playing football – children doing the thing they love – all in as safe an environment as possible. The guidance from The FA has been detailed and good but, so far, there has been no additional response to the new Government restrictions unless you are in a lockdown area. We believe we should not wait until this occurs. We believe that we should be proactive to try and protect the continuance of football – Prevention has always been better than cure!

We, as your YEL Board, are now recommending the implementation of the following seven steps to our YEL member clubs. These are not to replace any Government/FA/ Public Health England advice but should be seen as a supplement to/underpinning the existing advice and providing additional safeguards in the fight against COVID-19. As always, most of these are recommendations/guidance only (apart from NHS Test and Trace which we understand is a legal requirement) however we would hope that people will see these as an added protection for themselves and their children and will willingly agree to them. Of course, if you own your own facility, you can make it very clear that it is part of your club COVID-19 policy and ask people to respect it whilst on your private property.

We are recommending:

  1. Only one parent/carer per player attends YEL games (and training) in order to minimise the number of people on touchlines. From a safeguarding and welfare point of view, an adult should always be present in case of injury to their child.
  2. Every home team appoints a COVID-19 warden to walk the touchline at the start of the game, with a printed copy of the NHS test and trace QR Code for the venue to ensure that no one has missed scanning it prior to arriving pitchside.
  3. Each club reinforces the message to each of their teams when they are at home, that they should have a representative of the team/the COVID warden carry out a COVID-19 briefing to all participants prior to the game commencing – players, coaches and parents – highlighting the club’s COVID-19 policy including, but not limited to, social distancing, no shouting, leaving the pitch/site immediately after the game has concluded.
  4. Applying face coverings (under 12s excluded) at YEL organised games when attending/queuing for a tea bar/club kitchen
  5. Applying face coverings (under 12s excluded) at YEL organised games when using on-site toilets
  6. Home teams with high usage venues (50+ people on-site at any given point) appoint a club representative to enter the toilets on an hourly basis during high usage periods to wipe down/spray all touch surfaces with sanitiser/anti-viral
  7. Having a maximum number of socially distanced spectators – 30 – on a touchline at each game. Should this number be reached, consider opening up a small section of the coaches/players side of the pitch (NOT behind the goals) either side of the technical areas (where the managers and subs should remain at all times) as an overflow space in order to try to manage and encourage social distancing.

Many of these measures should already have been considered in your club risk assessments/COVID-19 Policy but we do feel it is worth repeating them and underlining their importance. If these do not form part of you risk assessment/ COVID-19 policy, please now look to incorporate them as we all need to be applying similar standards in order for the shield around the YEL community to be as effective as possible.

NHS Test and Trace App – Whilst visiting our ground please adhere to the track and trace that we have in place, see the following link for more information.