THE West Cork League is aiming to recommence its league and cup competitions on August 28th following the publication of an FAI Safer Return To Training Protocol document.
An online Zoom meeting between the WCL Committee and its club delegates took place on Tuesday evening. One of the main outcomes from that virtual get-together was the WCL Committee’s decision to liaise with each of its clubs and ensure they had access to the FAI documentation and understood what is required of them before safely returning to on-field action.
‘We will be working with all of our West Cork League clubs and reconvening on Monday, June 15th before contacting the FAI and committing to finishing off our season,’ WCL Secretary and Registrar John Buckley told The Southern Star.
‘We would be hopeful that the earmarked August 28th start date might even be brought forward if all goes well. First, we must confirm that all of our clubs and referees are okay to proceed with the new FAI guidelines.
‘Those include the appointment of a club Covid-19 Compliance Officer and fulfilling the steps to safely sanitise equipment and training facilities. We have a fixtures schedule made out and everyone is looking forward to completing the season over the coming months.’
Another important decision taken at last Tuesday’s meeting confirmed the promotion and relegation parameters for the coronavirus-affected 2020 WCL season.
‘The WCL committee decided that one club will be relegated from this year’s Premier Division and three clubs will gain promotion from the Championship,’ Buckley confirmed.
‘Bunratty United have already been relegated from the top tier. The decision has been made that Spartak Mossgrove and Mizen AFC (both already promoted) will go up with the winners of a play-off between whoever finishes third and fourth at the end of the Championship. There will be no additional play-off against second from bottom in the Premier as originally planned. This means we extend next season’s Premier Division to ten teams.
‘Obviously, we are aware that the GAA season is also about to restart. We hope to reduce any clashes to a minimum by starting on or before August 28th and have a two-week cushion to finish everything before the GAA championships kick in.’
The publication of the FAI document on the steps required for a safe return to training protocol temporarily jammed the Irish football federation’s website at the beginning of the week. That was as clear an indication (not that anyone involved in football needed it) that players, coaches and supporters are desperate to get back out on the pitches before the end of this unprecedented year.
This was the moment and announcement all adult amateur and underage West Cork League and clubs all over the country were waiting for since Covid-19 halted activities at the beginning of March.
In a nutshell, football clubs can recommence training sessions from Monday, June 15th provided they have filled out and returned a newly created checklist to the FAI.
At the core of the FAI’s lengthy documentation is the fact all clubs must appoint at least one Covid-19 Compliance Officer and that individual must be a club member. Any new Compliance Officer will be tasked with numerous roles and responsibilities, the most important being a risk assessment is carried out on training venues before use and that all equipment is sanitised before and after every training session. Up to 14 players and one coach can take part in adult training sessions with 13 players and 2 coaches permitted for underage training.