COVID-19 advice update and FAQs
GRASSROOTS football is currently experiencing an unprecedented period of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Quite rightly the focus is on staying safe and adhering to Government social isolation guidelines.
We are aware though that clubs, leagues and volunteers are looking for the most up-to-date information on the current and future impact on grassroots football as a result of the pandemic.
To assist you we have consolidated all the current COVID-19 information into one place. This will be updated as we continue to work through this period.
Suffolk FA have provided a Support Form for clubs and leagues during these difficult times.
The form is available to be completed by any club or league in need of support. To complete the form click here
frequently asked questions
Is Suffolk FA still open for business?
Yes, staff are currently home based and are eager to provide as much support to clubs and leagues as possible. Staff will be maintaining the working hours of 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.
The automated office telephone system links to appropriate members of the team, so this can still be used.
Call 01449 616606 and listen to the options before selecting who you wish to speak to.
How will my club pay its bills?
We do recognise that this is a significant worry for a large number of clubs and County FA’s are currently discussing the financial implications of the suspension with The FA who in turn are talking to the Government.
At this stage it is simply too soon to give any further information about any support that may be available, although the Treasury have issued the following:
Grant funding of £25,000 is available for hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will be introduced.
The Government is bringing forward legislation to allow SMEs to reclaim statutory sick pay paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible (further information to follow).
Businesses in financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s 'Time To Pay' service. Please call the dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559 who can help with any tax deferrals and revised payback schedule.
Businesses that have insurance for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered. However, the impact of government advice on mass gatherings in terms of insurance is yet to be confirmed. Please check your individual insurance policy.
For further support, please visit the Government’s support for businesses page or contact your local authority which will be issued with guidance to help businesses in their area.
Is there any funding for clubs during this time?
Suffolk FA have released a document detailing all of the financial support options available to clubs. This will be updated when any new opportunities become available.
I have seen that Sport England have released an emergency fund in response to the Covid-19 crisis, who can apply for this funding?
Local clubs, leagues and community sports organisations who are experiencing short-term financial hardship due to the impact of Covid-19 are eligible to apply to Sport England’s new Community Emergency Fund. Suffolk FA encourage all of our affiliated clubs and sanctioned leagues to consider applying if emergency money is needed.
Active Suffolk are able to advise on the Sport England Emergency Community Fund firstname.lastname@example.org
What other funding opportunities are available?
As well as Suffolk FA offering clubs support on all funding opportunities available, if you believe your club should be eligible for any of the Government business schemes and is yet to be contacted, please make contact with the relevant Local Authority:
New Anglia Growth Hub is available for advice on accessing emergency grants or support 0300 333 6536.
Suffolk FA have produced a guide titled ‘Support for Suffolk Clubs’ which is available as an aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information click here
Can clubs still charge subscriptions while all football is postponed?
This is a club decision. We would advise that you consult with players, parents and guardians on reaching a decision. Clubs who own / lease facilities will still have bills to pay and this should be explained.
However, clubs should be mindful of people who are currently out of work as result of COVID-19 or have had their working hours reduced and may struggle to make payments.
Could you offer payment holidays for those in need?
Can you allow subscriptions to be paid in instalments?
Would people be prepared to pay an advance on their subs to help the club out in the short-term if they are able to?
Is my league going to finish and what about cup finals?
After consultation with a number of key stakeholders the FA have decided to conclude the 2019-20 Grassroots Football season as of now. Suffolk FA are working closely with member leagues to help them to determine how they close out their current competitions.
The current indication is that League Cup Finals could be played as pre-2020-21 season competitions. We appreciate this would bring challenges with player eligibility, as well as formats in youth football.
Leagues Committees are determining their own approach and communicating to clubs, with a number deciding to hold making a decision on Cup Competitions until next season becomes clearer.
What about Suffolk County Cup competitions?
The same applies for Suffolk FA County Cups as it does League Cup Competitions. Specifically regarding those Suffolk County Cup Finals due to be held at Portman and Playford Road, although discussions with Ipswich Town FC are yet to take place because the restart dates of the professional game remain uncertain, it does seem likely that those County Cup Finals scheduled for Ipswich Town FC facilities will now need to be hosted at other grounds around Suffolk.
We understand the disappointment this will / would cause. Ipswich Town FC and Suffolk FA enjoy hosting finals as much as teams enjoy playing at professional facilities, but at least hosting these fixtures at other grounds would generate some much-needed funds within local football.
As this season has been concluded, does that mean that as a player I can now sign for another club for next season?
No. As it stands there has been no change to the Rules regarding player registrations so players cannot sign for next season yet.
Are we able to train as a team?
No. The suspension also applies to training. If a team were to organise a training session this would contravene the Government’s current advice and you would not be covered by the Club’s Public Liability and Personal Accident insurance.
Can we play friendlies?
No. There is no difference between playing a friendly and playing a league or cup match. You cannot play any football whilst the suspension is in place. It is important to understand that if you were to play a friendly, you would not be covered by the Public Liability and Personal Accident insurance.
What about kickabouts with friends?
This does not fall under our direct jurisdiction. However, we would very strongly advise that everybody observes the guidelines as set out by the Government.
Does the suspension include small-sided football?
Yes, all affiliated football is currently suspended for the foreseeable future so that covers every format of the game.
Can we play in summer tournaments?
No. As it stands, no Club can run a summer tournament due to the current suspension. We do, of course, recognise that these events are important fundraisers for Clubs but at the present time the suspension does prevent these from taking place.
Should I still report any Safeguarding or Welfare concerns I have?
Yes. Although football is not being played the welfare and safety of young people is still our main priority.
If you have any concerns then please report them to Suffolk FA. If a child is in immediate danger or at risk of harm then contact the Police (999) or the NSPCC (0808 800 5000).
Can I still have my FA DBS verified?
The FA is implementing temporary changes to DBS checks in football for the period that football is suspended due to COVID-19, up to and including the start of 2020-21 season. As a result, we ask that new DBS checks are NOT submitted until we receive further guidance from the FA.
For the avoidance of doubt, volunteers will not be permitted to carry out regulated activity with U18s until they have obtained a DBS check.
The FA will provide a further update on processing new DBS checks in due course when there is further clarity on football activity will resume.
Can I still action and pay my discipline?
Yes. We encourage everyone to use the Whole Game System to do this. For those that usually come into Bill Steward House to deal with this, please wait until football resumes to sort.
Will my suspension still stand?
Yes. Any suspension still outstanding following the last competitive fixture will be served at the start of the 2020-21 season.
If results from last season are expunged, will any discipline fines we paid during the season be refunded?
No. The FA have confirmed the position regarding this. The Sanctions imposed are as a result of misconduct committed and are not dependent on the completion of a season.
This would be a similar scenario to matches abandoned where the game has not completed but the sanctions remain.
What about outstanding suspensions from the 2019-20 season. Will these be waived?
As per the regulations any suspension outstanding following the last competitive fixture will be served at the commencement of the next season.
On that basis any suspension that remains outstanding will be served at the commencement once competitive football recommences.
Will my team still receive late fines and suspensions if I do not deal with the discipline?
We will not be issuing late fees during this period.
What is happening with current misconduct charges?
In line with Government advice no personal hearings are to be staged at this time.
You may be offered the chance to proceed by papers or digitally but this is on a County-by-County basis. If you want a personal hearing then this will be held once Government restrictions are listed.
Will my team be disciplined for having excessive discipline points at the end of the season?
With the amount of outstanding fixtures that were due to be played it is unlikely any team will surpass the threshold. For those teams that already have reached the threshold then your punishment will be served at the start of the 2020-21 season.
Football debt recovery
Should the current COVID-19 restrictions continue for longer than 12 weeks then applications can still be submitted by clubs although action may not be taken until the County FA offices reopen.
If a player refunds a club directly during this time then please notify the County FA as soon as possible.
When will football start again?
We wish we knew! The situation regarding Covid-19 is incredibly fluid and it is impossible to say at this stage when and how football will be back.
Like you we are already desperate for it to return!
What happens to my club’s FA Charter Standard Annual Health Check?
Suffolk FA have taken the decision to APPROVE all Annual Health Check submissions providing the club agree to an agreed action plan.
The action plans will be revisited once football resumes.
Can our club still apply for FA Charter Standard accreditation?
Yes. We are still accepting applications. For more information click here
Will my club lose its Charter Standard status?
The FA have confirmed an extension of one month for clubs to complete their Annual Health Check.
This means the deadline to submit and be awarded has been pushed back from March 31st to April 30th.
Where clubs are required to book individuals onto courses, we still have plenty of availability in June.
However, there will be some leniency if volunteers cannot access these courses for clubs to renew their accreditation.
Volunteers will still be required to complete their online Safeguarding renewal, where possible, before the health check can be awarded.
If a club does not submit or cannot be awarded their Annual Health Check by the end of April, their accreditation will lapse.
Any clubs that have already been awarded their Health Check during the 2019-20 season will remain a Charter Standard Club going into the 2020-21 season.
If you have any questions regarding Annual Health Checks please email email@example.com
We are still to receive our FA Charter Standard or FA Kit Scheme rewards
The company which is tasked with ensuring clubs receive their rewards has taken the decision to close as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to safeguard its staff.
As a result, no orders are being processed and rewards are not being delivered.
We hope to have more news on when normal service will resume once current Government advice changes.
Is any more advice available for Charter Standard Clubs?
Yes. The FA and Muckle LLP have prodcued a document to provide legal guidance around COVID-19. For more information click here
All courses are postponed for the foreseeable future. When the current Government advice changes and we receive confirmation from FA Learning that courses can resume we will then make an announcement.