The Football Association has today issued updated guidelines for the National League System [NLS] and Women’s Football Pyramid [WFP] that include a phased and limited return of spectators for clubs at Steps 3-6 and Tiers 3-4 respectively.
The FA worked continuously alongside the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport [DCMS], the Sports Grounds Safety Authority [SGSA] and leagues to submit detailed proposals for a phased and limited return of spectators at these levels to the UK Government.
The DCMS has now clarified its guidance on the return to recreational team sport and clubs at Steps 3-6 of the NLS and Tiers 3-4 of the WFP are permitted to accommodate a phased and limited return of spectators to fixtures. However, they must follow the UK Government’s guidance in relation to Covid-19 and The FA’s updated guidelines for the NLS or WFP respectively.
In addition, Regional NLS Feeder League clubs and clubs at Tiers 5-6 of the WFP are permitted to accommodate socially-distanced spectators in line with The FA’s guidelines for grassroots football.
All clubs at Steps 3-6 of the NLS and Tiers 3-4 of the WFP are required to have a designated Covid-19 Officer; complete and publish bespoke risk assessments and action plans; and arrange support for Track and Trace efforts before implementing the following:
• From 22 August 2020 to 30 August 2020, spectators are permitted to attend fixtures at Steps 3-6 of the NLS and Tiers 3-4 of the WFP, providing that their number does not exceed 15% of the minimum ground grading capacity at these levels or respective figures set out within The FA’s updated guidelines;
• If a club at these levels does not play any fixtures during this period, it must have played at least one pre-season or competitive fixture in accordance with its respective level of spectators before moving on to Stage Two.
• From 31 August 2020, clubs at Steps 3-6 of the NLS and Tiers 3-4 of the WFP will be permitted to allow spectators to attend fixtures provided that their number does not exceed 30% of the minimum ground grading capacity at their level or the respective figures set out within The FA’s updated guidelines. However, they must be satisfied that they have been able to comply with the Government’s guidance on the return to recreational team sport and The FA’s updated guidelines.
The phased and limited return of spectators at these levels will be kept under constant review in line with the UK Government’s guidelines and will be amended accordingly as required.
Please see The FA’s updated guidelines for the further information.
Although Ground Grades F, G and H do not specify a minimum ground capacity for Steps 5 and 6, The FA considers 1,000 to be an appropriate threshold to set (given the minimum ground capacity in the grades above), which will also promote a consistent approach across the Steps. The FA does not consider that this threshold will have a negative impact on clubs at Steps 5 and 6 given the number of spectators that ordinarily affect fixtures in Steps 3 – 6.
The FA has calculated 15% of the relevant figures and rounded up/down to reach an appropriate capacity limit. For the avoidance of doubt, clubs should comply with the numbers in the capacity column below.