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The introduction of another lockdown has meant that non-elite football leagues have been suspended for one month, meaning that some clubs have been forced to stop training as well as their matches.

On Saturday 31st October 2020, Boris Johnson announced that a second national lockdown was to be implemented in order to ease the transmission of COVID-19. The lockdown will be in place between 5thNovember and 2nd December, and restrictions have been implemented throughout the entire month.

However, unlike during the previous lockdown whereby all football and sport were cancelled or postponed, the government and the FA have given the green-light for elite sport to continue throughout the month. This means that football clubs in step one and two, from the Premier League to the National Leagues North and South will be able to carry on as normal, whilst clubs from steps three to six are not allowed to compete and play.

The FA has also stated that all fixtures and training for women’s football clubs from tiers three to seven will also be postponed. The second lockdown will undoubtedly have consequences for all of these clubs, but to what extent will these players and staff be affected? And could it be detrimental for the sport?

Hullbridge Sports FC play in the Isthmian North Division, which is step 4 in the National Football Pyramid. In an exclusive interview with Overtime, when asked if he had any initial hope that non-elite football could continue as normal, manager Darren Manning said “I was 50/50, part of me thought that we would be able to, because of the tier systems that have been put in place, it would have meant that we would have been able to continue in any tier, so there was part of me that was hopeful.” He added “It’s a huge disappointment and a huge blow to what we were doing as we were just getting going really in the season.”

Many managers of non-elite clubs have said that they have felt like they had been treated unfairly by the FA and the government, but Manning argued “It is weird how they can say that at a certain level you’re not affected but at another level you are, so that bit baffles me, but I wouldn’t say that we’re hard-done-by because the clubs higher weren’t able to have fans and we were able to have fans so it is all about respecting the level that you are at.”

Watch the full interview with Darren Manning here…

There is no doubt that the implications caused by another lockdown will cause big problems for some non-elite football clubs, especially in terms of maintaining their form on the pitch. It has not yet been made clear if the games that were meant to be played throughout November will be cancelled or postponed until the end of the season, but football fans across the country will hope that their sport is not affected any more following the current lockdown.

Leon Imber & Emillia Hawkins

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