Grassroots football clubs news they dreaded but expected: No exemption from lockdown

It looks like the game is up for grass-roots football - and all other outdoor team sports... at least for the next four weeks.

Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, 8:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, 8:36 am
Grassroots football is set to be paused during the new national lockdown

Prime minister Boris Johnson has said he cannot make any exemptions to the rule that outdoor sport - apart from at elite level - should stop in the national lockdown lasting from November 5 to December 2.

He was responding to a question from Labour MP for Durham North, Kevan Jones, who pointed out many amateur sports clubs had made huge efforts to make sure their matches and meetings could be held safely.

Johnson said: "I bitterly regret that we have to curtail for 28 days (non-elite) football clubs."

That appears to shut the door on hopes that non-elite football - which includes leagues from Step 3 and below in the non-League game as well as local Sunday Leagues - may somehow escape the month-long lockdown.

And it seems football and other sports for youngsters will also be halted after Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden responded to a question of whether children could still play grassroots sport on Twitter last night (Monday) by writing: "This will be permitted in school settings.

"Unfortunately we need to pause grassroots sport outside school to reduce the transmission risk from households mixing. As soon as we can resume this, we will."

Sports including rugby and hockey had already accepted their fate - but golf bosses are still thought to be negotiating to allow some forms of their sport to continue.

It's a bitter blow to clubs who have been welcoming crowds of up to 600 since August, with very few problems or issues reported. And it means that matches planned for tonight and tomorrow evening will be the last for four weeks.