Lancashire FA would like to clarify its position with regards to the use of changing rooms in grassroots football, after it was recently alleged that our advice was out of step with both the Government and the national governing body.
Firstly, we’d like to once again thank the many grassroots volunteers who have been putting the work in to ensure people are safe whilst playing and watching the game across the county. Your work is truly appreciated by the whole team at Lancashire FA and the wider football community.
In light of recent enquiries, we are once again seeking to align our position closely with our neighbouring County FAs to ensure consistency where games are being played ‘cross border’ or in leagues sanctioned by other counties. Whilst Lancashire FA has no sanctions around Covid-19 currently, we strongly encourage all clubs to follow this guidance.
The current guidance is explicit:
“Changing rooms are an area of increased risk of transmission. Where possible, they should remain closed. Players and Officials should arrive changed and shower at home. Exceptions may be made where safety and safeguarding measures require their use e.g. supporting disabled athletes or a child needs a change of clothing etc. If you choose to use your changing and shower facilities you must follow government guidelines.”
These guidelines are based on the reality that the chances of viral transmission are increased in indoor settings. This does not mean however that the use of changing rooms is banned. If a club believes it meets the extenuating conditions referenced above and hence wishes to utilise changing areas then as an independent body it is at liberty to so do. However, should that choice be made the club needs to ensure the following:
• There is a robust risk assessment in place for their usage, rigorously implemented
• Deep cleaning takes place after each occasion of use
• Clubs have checked with their insurers if they are prepared to cover as usual if changing rooms are used
• The club takes responsibility in the event of any action by the local authority who perceive the use of changing rooms to breach governing body guidance
We are of course fully aware of the desirability of having access to changing facilities and the discomfort from being denied that. We are also aware of people citing different conditions pertaining to clubs in the National League System (NLS) where it is assumed there will be a heightened number of volunteers and resources to build in the safeguards required. It should of course be pointed out that in the NLS spectators are restricted. The different conditions in place reflect the different challenges at both ends of the game. The same applies to the professional game, whereby spectators are not allowed to attend games but the use of changing facilities is permitted.
Football is currently being played effectively under licence. Many local authorities in the North West with high transmission rates are constantly looking at organised sport. Thus far they have been very supportive of continuation based on the assumption of compliance with the FA guidance. However, it cannot be stressed enough that if football does not fully play its part, responsibly, in minimising risk of spreading the virus, then our licence to play faces the very real prospect of being removed, whether that be locally or nationally.
We are calling on all leagues, clubs, volunteers and spectators to play their part in these unique times to ensure the immediate future of the game is not placed under threat with a return to the dark days of March and April. Let’s work together to keep the game going.
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