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Bills Bulletin

Bill’s Bulletin: roadmap out of lockdown

If someone had said a year ago that I would be arranging my day around an announcement in Parliament, I would’ve suggested they needed a lie down.

But here I was this afternoon listening in to the Prime Minister’s roadmap to lifting lockdown.

It’s fair to say it’s not the hell for leather approach of before but a cautious, staged one.

What does it mean for us as a club?

Our football academy can return in a fortnight and Mr Johnson announced twice-weekly testing for students in secondary school and further education. We will need to firm up the details of that ahead of the 8th.

From Monday 29th March, our youth and community teams should at least be back training and Soccersixes, who hire the Gallagher on three nights a week, will restart their fixtures.

Whether the various youth leagues will restart their seasons is up for discussion but surely that is in doubt. If they allow for a fortnight of training, there won’t be enough time to complete a significant fixture backlog.

Perhaps a league cup competition, played in a group format, would help the physical and mental health of many boys and girls who’ve missed their football fix over several weeks.

The March and April target dates also give us the opportunity to offer up pitch hire, plan for an Easter Soccer School and restart our Development Centres. Dare I look to the summer, where the Spitfire Lounge could be open for parties or big screen showings of the delayed Euro 2020 competition? As return dates for bookings are confirmed, we will make specific announcements, hopefully some of these announcements will be in the next fortnight once the official guidance is published.

The return of spectator events at elite level has been pencilled in for week commencing 17th May – two weeks before our first team season was due to end, prior to its cancellation last week.

For those clubs, ours included, that rely heavily on that gate revenue, this date would have created an immense challenge had the season not been declared null and void.

At least we can start planning for the 2021/22 campaign with a bit more certainty than we had a few hours ago. Like before, I expect further information will cascade down from Government and The FA.

We’ve got a significant period of time to plan and prepare for next season and I am keen to involve people from across the club and supporters in that exercise. More on that in the near future.

Plenty to digest following that announcement, as well as working out how to get through till the second week in April without a trip to the barbers! What a dilemma!