10:08am, Tue 4th Aug 2020
The last five months have been a strange and difficult time for the majority us, but also harder for some with their health and the health of loved ones also taking a hit, adding to their difficulties. There is also the ultimate human tragedy too many people have suffered across the globe.
We have all become accustomed to a new way of life which, had it been suggested last year, we would have laughed at. However, COVID-19 is very much still here and changing everything we do from work, school, travel, shop, and socialising with the friends and family we missed during those weeks of lockdown.
Coronavirus obviously halted the football season and prevented Woking FC having a proper go for the play-offs. No one knows what would have happened had it continued to a natural conclusion but as it stands, we look forward to a new season in the National League starting on the 3rd October. The league includes friends and foes like Torquay, Aldershot and the newly readmitted Stevenage to keep us entertained. We also wave goodbye to Barrow and Harrogate, we wish them all the best in the Football League.
I’ve written this update to prepare you for the type of event you might be turning up to when the season starts and to temper some assumptions that are flying around. This is not gospel, but a guide that has taken into consideration the latest sporting event advice and legislation from the Government, FA, National League and Sports Ground Safety Authority; groups that, amongst others, all have a vested interest in the safe return of football as a spectator event. The advice changes daily and specific locations will also be subject to local lockdown procedures and changes to legislation with little or no notice.
So, the current picture for National League clubs as it stands
Until July 31st 2020
Full contact football training can now take place in groups of NO MORE THAN 30 participants including management and staff.
From the 1st August 2020
Outdoor competitive matches can begin (e.g pre-season friendlies) with those not actively engaged on the pitch, adhering to the 2m social distancing rule were practicable. Currently these events will be closed to the general public and spectators.
From the 3rd October 2020
Unfortunately, this is not an exhaustive list
- A full National League calendar will commence with limited spectators and temporary stadium capacity throughout all the stands.
- Everyone attending will be expected to self-assess for signs and symptoms* of COVID-19 before travelling and upon arrival may be subject to on the spot temperature checks as part of admission.
- Supplying your details will also become a condition of entry to comply with the NHS Track and Trace procedures.
- Hands must be sanitised before entry into the ground and, within reason, whenever there has been contact with another person.
- Social distancing of 2m, or 1m where 2m is not viable, will be enforced across all areas of the Laithwaite Community Stadium footprint including entry, refreshments, toilets and viewing the game. There will also be one-way systems in place for us all to get our heads around which may mean a different entry and exit point than we are used to. We also may not be able to sit in the exact seat we have done for years or stand in the same areas as gathering points will be limited.
- Capacity will be limited to all parts of the ground including the bar, shop, refreshment areas, the LGS and open standing areas with social distancing in mind and potentially queueing systems in place. The KRE will have to have sections with limited numbers of spectators spread out across the entire length. The same goes for Moaners’ Corner and the CLT. This will obviously cause frustration but it is there for everyone’s health.
- You may be required to bring your own and wear a mask at all times or in certain parts of the ground.
- Payments and tickets where possible will be contactless across the entire ground. There is huge concern from government that the infection from handling money in public events where it changes hands so frequently can lead to an increase of infection. Tap and Contactless payment is a quick and effective way to reduce transmission through the handling of cash.
- Players and staff will still want to spend time with appreciative fans but autographs and close photographs will be avoided in all but controlled environments. Please do not be offended if they decline your pen or camera as they also have conduct requirements to adhere to.
- Expect there to be some form of spectators’ charter or code of conduct to be published at all grounds which will cover the majority of points above and give guidance and clarity over expected considerate behaviour.
but I wanted to make it clear that the new world order will be very different for all of us while watching the sport we love. Whether you feel you are able to return is a matter for yourself and you must consider your health, susceptibility to illness, how you will travel, can you maintain social distancing and your own personal circumstances at home and family. If in doubt or feel you may have signs or symptoms* then please do not risk your health or that of our loved ones.
I appreciate some of this may seem a little over the top and that for the non-believers a case of ‘it won’t happen to me’ and I appreciate that everyone’s different view. However, this is what the authorities are currently pointing towards and I for one want to watch the football again on the terraces with my friends and family as I’ve missed it so much since March. It’s really a matter of doing what we can to make sure the staff, the players and the fans are safe by reducing the risks. As Team Sky would once say, it’s about controlling the controllable.
Woking Football Club will comply with all the legislation put forward and we will have a game again we can watch at the Laithwaite Community Stadium as soon as possible.
*What does self-assess for signs and symptoms mean?
Everyone should before attending and if showing any signs, do not attend, self-isolate, and inform the NHS by ringing 119.
If you are or a member of your household are isolating, do not attend any matches.
- Fever or high temperature (eg 37.8C or 100.04F)
- New or continuous cough
- Suffering a loss of taste or smell
- A shortness of breath during exercise or at rest
- Headaches, feeling generally unwell, or suffering persistent tiredness/fatigue muscle and joint pains
If you answer YES to any of these questions, self-isolate, inform the NHS by calling 119 and follow the advice from them.