Now there is more optimism around a possible September or October start and in those situations we would be able to accomodate a full league campaign – even if it meant going into May. At the Southern League, we recently asked clubs about their feelings with regards to restarting and a number of things became clearly evident.
Over 90 per cent of the clubs told us it would not be viable to play behind closed doors whilst slightly more said they could operate with reduced capacities and accommodate social distancing.
So, to start the season we need clubs’ hospitality facitilies to be open for business, as is now the case in England. It is not yet in Wales but that could changed in the next few weeks. The other crucial decision the Government would need to make us to make mass gatherings. With minimum ground capacities at Steps 3 and 4 being 1,950 and 1,300 respectively, a possible solution could be that attendances would be restricted to a percentage of those capacities.
That could be enough to see us stare the new season but will still require significant planning and procedures which I am sure the clubs will embrace but only with the help, advice and guidance of the leagues.
This leads on, of course, to how clubs will cope. We have all feared that some clubs would fall during this crisis and that, sadly, may still be the case. The task for us as adminstrators is to give clubs the best possible opportunity to function financially and despite a difficult economic situation. We are endeavouring to secure further sponsorshiop which would enable us as leagues to provide at least some help in term of equipment and services to member clubs.
There is also the onus on the clubs themselves to plan for next season in a financially sensible manner and to ensure their forecasts and spencing plans are realistic, just as we as leagues have had to.
In all the planning we do for the new season, we must take into account the possibilities of a second wave of the virus striking or regional areas of the country going into lockdown. We hope it doesn’t happen and the last thing anyone wants is a second season without promotion/relegation so we must seek out contingencies to ensure that doesn’t happen even if the season was to be curtailed.
Full article can be read in the Non-League Paper – Sunday 5 July 2020.