Covid concerns ahead of new non-league football season

Mitre footballs on the pitch ahead of the FA Cup third round match at Selhurst Park, London.

Non-league season is just weeks away now and Covid isolations have hit pre-season clashes - Credit: PA

The new non-league season is just weeks away, but Covid concerns look as though they could potentially play havoc with early fixtures.

Already this pre-season many friendlies have been called off due to team's players having to self isolate and unable to fulfil games. The new Eastern Counties League season begins in 11 days time.

So, how does Eastern Counties League chairman Peter Hutchings see it.

"We've put into the clubs' manual this season that if one side wants to call off a game because of Covid issues, they should in the first instance call the opposing club to see if they are amenable.

"If they are, then fine.

"But if, and because we had some issues last season where some clubs felt others were 'trying it on', the unaffected club does not agree to the calling off of the game, the League will call it off and the offending club will be charged with failing to fulfill the fixture.

"And that then means it will  then come before the management committee, when we will have a chance to consider all the facts in front of us."

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Failing to fulfil a fixture is a £500 fine in the first instance for Eastern Counties League clubs and while fining clubs is the last thing any League wants to do, Hutchings also hopes when the isolation situation changes in August, things will improve.

That's because from August 16 fully vaccinated people will avoid isolation even if they come into contact with someone who tests positive for Covid-19.

Isolation will also be scrapped for under-18s.

"I think Covid will be a issue at the start of the season, but when we get past this August 16 date, when if you've had two jabs you don't have to self isolate, I think things will improve."

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