Message from Chief Executive Pete Ackerley
Today the UK Government shared information on the proposed roadmap out of lockdown in England. We are very pleased to welcome the news that as part of this, outdoor teams sports can potentially return to activity from 29 March.
While this is very encouraging, we now need to be patient as we wait for further clarity and guidelines from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to find out exactly what this means for British American Football. For example, we will need to understand whether this announcement also applies to close contact sports, and whether there will be additional mitigations put in place such as limits on participation numbers and travel or exclusions on specific types of activity.
It’s also been clearly communicated by the UK Government that restrictions will be lifted in stages, and each stage will only proceed where certain conditions relating to vaccination progress, death rates, hospitalisation rates, infection rates and new variants have been met. This means we also have to be realistic and acknowledge there may yet be delays or pauses to stages of activity returning to make sure that we don’t undo the progress achieved so far.
And importantly, we also need to remember that we are a National Governing Body for the whole of the UK, and today’s announcement only applies to the return of team sports in England. We will need to wait for the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales to share their lockdown easing plans before we can see the broader picture for our sport, and in particular what this may mean for cross-border competition.
With all this in mind, over the coming weeks we will continue to engage with both the DCMS and with home nation sports councils and with our own commission leads and will update our planning accordingly. As part of this we also intend to split our return to play roadmap more clearly between flag and contact plans, in recognition of the different needs and challenges of each format of our sport.
If all the signs are good, I am optimistic that we’ll be able to resume activity. This will see flag teams return to practice activity and inter-club friendly competition with a view to moving towards competition as planned, and contact teams initially moving to Stage 5 of our return to play plan and modified contact.
I will continue to keep you updated as we get more information, and I very much hope to be sharing more positive news about our plans to return to the game we all love in the near future!