Message from Chief Executive Pete Ackerley
The last few days have seen a number of announcements relating to restrictions across England, Scotland and Wales that impact on our sport. You can find the updated position for each nation below.
Yesterday I attended calls with DCMS officials and ministers and leaders of other National Governing Bodies as we try and work through the longer-term implications of these restrictions and any further extension for the sports sector. A number of sports and bodies are also lobbying for exemptions, and greater clarity is still needed on what the new restrictions in England means for university sport – which includes our university American football clubs.
Pressure is also mounting on the UK government to address its decision to stop children from playing sport as part of the restrictions, and there are growing demands for a recovery fund for the sports sector, similar to the bail-out given to the culture and arts industry earlier this year.
BAFA will continue to review the ongoing situation, take guidance from the DCMS and home nation sports councils and I will continue to keep you as updated as possible.
Registration date concerns
I know we have previously communicated dates for minimum numbers of players to be registered for our different competitions. I would like to assure everyone who has expressed concerns regarding this recently that we will be taking a flexible approach for each competition based on the current situation at the time and our commission leads will update on this as appropriate. Clubs should also contact their relevant commission leads to discuss if they have any concerns. Although we will be continuing to scenario plan for what competitive football might look like next year for our different disciplines and age groups, we also know we must be reactive and agile to continue to take the constantly changing environment we’re trying to operate in into account.
Meantime, I would still urge clubs and coaches to continue to complete the administrative actions they’ve been asked to undertake relating to documentation and qualifications as this will ensure that when practice and play is possible, we’re in the best possible shape as a sport to take advantage of that.
Saturday evening saw the announcement of planned England-wide restrictions to come into force from Thursday 5 November. These restrictions are subject to a vote in parliament tomorrow.
If passed as we expect, as of Thursday all American football activity will immediately revert to stage 1 of our Return to Play roadmap.
These restrictions would then be in force for at least the four weeks up to Wednesday 2 December. At the end of the period, the UK Government would look to return to a regional approach within England. We will advise what this might mean for our sport when we have more information on what this will look like.
The firebreak lockdown currently in force in Wales is due to come to an end from Monday 9 November. The Welsh government has confirmed that a new and simpler set of national rules for Wales will apply after this point. This means positive news for our clubs in Wales who should then be able return to stage 4 of our roadmap.
The Scottish Government’s new Strategic Framework containing five protection levels came into force yesterday. This replaces previous health board-based restrictions. Broadly speaking, this means little difference for our member clubs in the central belt but does give us a clear structure to align our guidance to.
American football activity in Scotland, where possible, remains at stage 3 of our Return to Play roadmap. Our new protection levels activity guide highlights what’s permitted in each level the Scottish Government Strategic Framework.
I have no doubt that our clubs in Scotland are already aware of which level they fall into, but a postcode checker is available here – https://www.gov.scot/check-local-covid-level/
In summary, clubs must be based within a level 2 region or lower for adult American football activity to be permitted. But activity for under 18s is permitted across all levels except level 4.
New guidance relating to the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework has been shared with us by sportscotland, and we will be resubmitting our Return to Play guidance to take this into account and seeking approval again to move to Stage 4 in Scotland on that basis.
It is also fair to flag that as the situation continues to remain fluid that restrictions in each of our home nations may yet change again, or exemptions for different populations may yet be agreed. We will continually monitor the situation and update you on any further impact for British American football.