Can you play football during second lockdown? Rules on grassroots and amateur sport including tennis, golf and cycling from tomorrow

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Grassroots football has been forced to stop for the second time this year, as all outdoor team sports have been told they are not exempt from new lockdown restrictions.

Non-elite football in England will be halted during the second national lockdown period, the Football Association has announced.

The FA said matches and training in steps three to six of the men’s national league system (NLS) and tiers three to seven of the women’s football pyramid would be suspended during the upcoming lockdown period, which is being imposed by the Government amid a second wave of coronavirus infections nationwide.

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The suspension also covers matches and training in regional NLS feeder leagues, the Women’s Super League academy league, FA girls regional talent clubs and indoor and outdoor youth and adult grassroots football.

A young boy collects the corner flags (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)A young boy collects the corner flags (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
A young boy collects the corner flags (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

The suspension comes into effect from Thursday, with the new restrictions set to last until at least December 2.

“Restarting football at these levels has taken substantial determination and commitment from stakeholders across the game and The FA would like to thank everyone for their vital contributions,” a statement from the governing body read.

“However, health and well-being remain the priority, so it is extremely important that clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents, carers and facility providers adhere to the UK Government’s new national Covid-19 restrictions during this period.”

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Elite sport will continue, including the FA Cup first round this weekend which features 10 non-elite clubs.

A series of sports, including golf, tennis, cycling, athletics, triathlon and archery, have lobbied the Government for exemptions to lockdown restrictions, and Cabinet minister Michael Gove had to issue an apology on Tuesday morning after wrongly suggesting that playing golf or tennis with just one other person would be allowed.

Gove said on Twitter: “My apologies, I got this wrong. Outdoor leisure facilities including tennis courts and golf courses will be closed from Thursday.”

Former sports minister Richard Caborn has criticised the Government’s decision to effectively mothball grassroots sport for the duration of the month-long lockdown.

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Caborn told the PA news agency: “Whilst I broadly agree with the decision the Government has taken, I think it really needs to revisit the decision on amateur sport across the board.

“From a health and psychological point of view it is advantageous, and from a Covid point of view it is also really good because the more people you can get outside, the less contact there is.

“I have seen no evidence that should stop (outdoor) sport being played. I cannot see why, from the three points of health, mental well-being and the coronavirus itself, the Government has taken the decision it has.”

Archery GB chief executive Neil Armitage said: “We agree with comments from fellow sports such as golf and tennis and believe that certain sports, particularly outdoor archery, can be safe with the current appropriate common-sense measures in place.

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“The nature of our sport is that it may be enjoyed outdoors with adequate social distancing and Covid-secure protocols. Shooting arrows outdoors represents no more risk than taking a country walk, one could argue that it represents a lower risk as protocols are in place at all outdoor ranges.”