Safety First for Maidstone United

Maidstone United chief executive Bill Williams has issued a statement following the release of the guidelines from the FA regarding the return of Non League Football.

“I am sure most of you have read the detailed Football Association document on the return of non-league football and other aspects of the grassroots game.

Having refreshed my inbox countless times last week, said document arrives on a sunny Saturday afternoon, after being signed off by government late Friday evening.

While it was beneficial to have the weekend to read and digest, some actions in the grassroots and youth game kicked in straight away but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, this is not a return to business as before.

As a club, we’ve got measures to put in place and a risk assessment that needs to be finalised and signed off before any of the new norm can start.

I am pleased to say that we’ve got that underway. From the way other sectors reopened, we were able to second guess what was coming down the track. This week we will add to and amend our assessment and get it in to the powers that be for their approval or otherwise.

In my last update I spoke of a quick turnaround and that seems to be the case.

It’s looking likely that if all goes to plan, The FA have pencilled in a September start. A busy six weeks or so is on the horizon but as I said before we’re ready for it.

We’re going to need a bit of help to achieve everything but I know when the call goes out to supporters you step up every time. Please look out for further announcements soon.

The grey area in these latest documents is spectators at matches. From the Zoom meetings we’ve attended, the clear objective was a return to football, with fans – it has to be that way.

The novelty of the Premier League and Championship games behind closed doors was essential to complete those seasons but let’s be frank, even the dubbed crowd noise couldn’t make up for the real thing, especially when the goal celebration button was pressed when the ball has actually gone out for a corner!

And while the relegated teams were spared from the Sky Sports director trying to find the tearful child in the crowd, fans of Liverpool and Leeds have missed out on the euphoria of watching their team lift the trophy in person.

Safety has to be the number one priority.

We haven’t gone through some of the toughest months in recent memory, just to abandon it all for a sporting fixture.

This Friday sees face coverings become mandatory in shops, as it has been on public transport for the last few weeks.

If the powers that be and other non-league chairmen are reading this, then let’s come together and apply the same mandatory requirement for spectators at matches.

For me, it’s an obvious way of achieving near normal attendances without the scenes we saw in the days leading up to lockdown.

If they are an adequate measure in an enclosed space, it stands to reason they would work in an open-air environment.

Face coverings for Football or Masks for Matches! I might trademark those before someone else does but in all seriousness, I hope it is given some proper consideration, very soon.

A busy week ahead. Time to get down to business. I’ll update you more at the end of the week.”


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