To All League and Association Secretaries & District Cup Secretaries
Good Morning All,
I hope you and your families are all well and coping during these difficult times. Football is of course a low priority on the bigger picture but the Scottish Amateur FA now feel some guidance is required to advise our member Leagues and Associations on how the current winter season and the Summer 2020 season should be administrated.
What we would say from the outset is that amateur football will return but only when it is safe to do so and of the advice of government, as the health and wellbeing of everyone in our game must be the first priority for everyone.
We would also state that like everyone else we do not have all the answers but we wish to try and give some guidance based on our limited knowledge and best guess about what will happen going forward.
Throughout world football there are a large number of questions and opinions but very few answers available and although some Leagues throughout the world are making judgements, they are based on what works best for their situation, with some for financial reasons and some due to their structure, but to be fair to every governing body no one has ever had to deal with such a situation before and it is difficult for everyone to make decisions when the important facts are not known, and the majority of these variables are not at the discretion of the Scottish Amateur FA let alone football as a whole.
The lockdown has now been in place for just over 3 weeks now and we were initially advised that it could be for 12 weeks. However the main concern for amateur football will not be the lock down but the social distancing measures currently in force. The government has advised that some form of social distancing may be required until a vaccine is found and these could be switched off and on for the next 12 months depending on pressure on the NHS, and could also be switched off and on differently in different parts of the country, again dependant on the pressure on regional health boards.
Therefore this belief in some quarters that we should get the 2019/20 season out the way to ensure we start in August with the 2020/21 winter season and have a normal season, is honourable but unlikely as we anticipate the strong possibility that the 2020/21 season will also suffer some level of disruption.
In short it is likely that we will only get back to normality when a vaccine for this virus is discovered.
The Executive & Finance Committee of the Scottish Amateur FA held a further Video Conference Call meeting on Wednesday 15th April 2020 and agreed that some guidance was now required for member Leagues and Associations.
The committee wish to give some context to their decision and they remain of the opinion that there are 3 key dates in this situation and currently these dates are not known and therefore this may make it extremely difficult for everyone to reach their individual decisions:
Date 1 – When the football suspension will be lifted and we are given the green light to play Recreational Football. We anticipate the Scottish FA will advise this date, based on government advice, as they were the body that applied the suspension.
Date 2 – When the 2019/20 player registrations cease. This date is currently 30th June 2020.
Date 3 – When the Summer season 2020 player registrations cease. This date is currently 30th September 2020.
At this time it remains unclear if the Scottish FA will move dates 2&3 for one season and if that happens we may wish to re-assess the position as an organisation, as UEFA/FIFA are already looking at the 30th June date in their working groups, as that is a key date around player contracts and again we do not know if any change to this date will have any impact on ourselves.
During our discussions it was agreed that the Scottish Amateur FA administer the National and District competitions and the preferred option was agreed for these competitions, but it was also acknowledged that the member Leagues and Associations administer their own competitions and should be free to make their own decisions and consult with their member clubs as they feel appropriate.
We apologise for the length of this correspondence but we felt it was important to provide some context and not simply issue the decision and we make no apologises for again stating that all this is unchartered territory for everyone and that no one has all the answers, as the situation seems to be changing daily, but we hope the following will give some guidance on how to progress your competitions over the coming period.
- Player Registration portal for Summer Season 2020 remains open and can be administered in the normal manner at this time.
- Players for the Winter Season 2020/21 can complete registration forms as normal as per the Scottish Amateur FA Constitution & Rules and an undated version of the Player Registration form is available on the Scottish Amateur FA website.
- At this time the Scottish FA has advised us that the Player Registration portal for Winter Season 2020/21 will open as normal but obviously it will be dependant on Date 1 and Date 2 when these registrations will become effective and we will advise of any changes if required.
- The Scottish Amateur FA intend when possible to complete all National and District cup competitions for season 2019/20 at an appropriate time. For clarification this appropriate time maybe after the Player Registrations for season 2020/21 have commenced, as the situation will be assessed when football is able to re-commence as per Date1.
- The decision on how to appropriately conclude League and cup competitions for Member League & Associations in winter season 2019/20, will be a matter for individual Leagues or Associations to decide upon and we would recommend at this time that members consult as an Executive or a General Committee, on the most suitable option for them individually, but we acknowledge that Date 1 and Date 2 may be a determining factor and therefore obviously a final decision can be left until these dates are known if the League or Association wish to do so.
- The decision on the Summer Season 2020 will be a matter for the individual member Leagues or Associations to decide upon once Date 1 and Date 3 are known, as it may be possible to hold a condensed tournament or a single cup competition in the time period available once these dates are known.
We now feel that member Leagues & Associations are in a position to open discussions as a League/Association on how best to move forward, if they have not already done so, in these unprecedented times.
Finally the Executive & Finance Committee wish to confidently remind you that amateur football will return and better days are ahead, but it can only be when safe to do so for the protection of all players and officials involved in our great game.
As always if you wish any further assistance or guidance on the above or any other matter please do not hesitate to contact the Scottish Amateur FA as although the office is closed, with the stadium in lock down, we will respond to your e-mail at the earliest opportunity.
Please stay safe and continue to adhere to the government advice.
Scottish Amateur FA
17th April 2020