Breaking: FA Announces Phased Return of Spectators At Non-League And Women’s Games

Just like you hear: A limited number of spectators will be permitted to attend specified non-league and women’s matches, starting this Saturday.

The Football Association (FA) has announced a phased return of fans at clubs playing in steps three to six of the men’s National League System (NLS) and teams in tiers three to four of the women’s football pyramid.

The FA statement read as followed:

“We have today issued updated guidelines for the National League System (NLS) and Women’s Football Pyramid (WFP) that include a phased and limited return of spectators for clubs at steps three to six and tiers three to four respectively.

“We have worked continuously alongside the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) and leagues to submit detailed proposals for a phased and limited return of spectators at these levels to the UK Government.

In general terms, spectators will be allowed through the turnstiles for games played between August 22 and 30, providing their number does not exceed 15% of the minimum ground grading capacity at these levels. From August 31, clubs will be permitted to allow spectators to attend fixtures provided their number does not exceed 30% of the minimum ground grading capacity.

If a club does have any fixtures before August 30, they must play at least one preseason or competitive match at the 15% threshold, before moving on to the 30% limit. Fans have been unable to attend matches played in the top 10 tiers of men’s football since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in March.

Step three of the NLS is the the seventh tier of English football and includes the Northern Premier League Premier Division, Southern League Central Division, Southern League South Division and Isthmian League Premier Division. Moreover, tier three of the women’s game comprises the National League Northern Premier Division and the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division, with four divisions in the level below.

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The decision still under constant review, however, it could start to be implemented to higher men’s and women’s football tiers.

Regional NLS feeder league clubs and clubs at tiers five to six of the women’s game are also permitted to accommodate socially distanced spectators in line with the FA’s guidelines for grassroots football.

The phased return of spectators at these levels was confirmed by the governing body following discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority. But for now, it will remain under constant review in line with Government guidelines and, if necessary, amended accordingly.

So, if this measures work, even if they’re taking place at a lower scale, we could start to see fans returning to stadiums in a near future, to see their favourite men’s and women’s game in the tops tiers.

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