Is grassroots sport ready for return in Crewe after PM unveils lockdown roadmap?

  Posted: 22.02.21 at 16:32 by The Editor

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QUESTIONS are being raised as to how grassroots sports, particularly football, can resume in Crewe at the end of next month after the PM revealed his roadmap out of lockdown today.

Adult and youth sport, including football, has been given the green light to resume on March 29 as part of Boris Johnson's four-step plan, which will first see schools reopening and two people allowed to meet outdoors from Monday, March 8.

Outdoor gatherings of either up to six people or two households will be allowed later in March as part of the new rulings, while sports, including football, golf and tennis, will be allowed to restart.

But while local tennis clubs are planning to reopen their courts, and golf clubs will be keen to follow suit, there may be major stumbling blocks with football.

Step 3 to 6 of the non-league circuit has been paused since before the third national lockdown was imposed on January 5 and it is unlikely to be financially viable for clubs such as neighbouring Nantwich Town to resume in the Northern Premier League.

Lower down at amateur level, costs are less an issue than managing to fit in a massive backlog of fixtures.

Crewe FC have been out of action since December 5 and after after starting their Cheshire League programme later than other clubs in October, have only played five games of a 32-game season.

Premier Division leaders, rivals F.C St. Helens, have played just nine games and Crewe FC Chairman Steve Parker has said it is unrealistic to believe the season can be completed in such a short space of time.

The chairman of the Cumberland Arena football club is already planning for next season and says that even if games were played within a revised format, such as a Champions League style tournament, they wouldn't be regarded as competitive.

Local leagues the Crewe and District League and the Crewe Regional Sunday League were suspended in December and, again, a large fixture list needs to be completed.

Long-serving members of the Crewe Regional Sunday League Faddiley highlighted the problem in a social media post, stating
"What that means for the #Crewe Regional Sunday League hopefully we should find out this week.
Problem they have is, Div 1 have some teams with 16 games to play".

The new four-step plan to ease lockdown could see all legal limits on social contact lifted by June 21 after schools have returned on March 8 and non-essential retail along with hairdressers, nail salons, gyms and outdoor hospitality areas/beer gardens have reopened on April 12.

By May 17 pubs, restaurants, cinemas, hotels, B&Bs and children's play areas would open their doors once more, with fans allowed back into sporting events.

Mr Johnson told the Commons that the vaccines had been game changers and that the "the end really is in sight" and "a wretched year will give way to a spring and a summer that will be very different and incomparably better than the picture we see around us today".

He added his plan aimed to be "cautious but irreversible" and at every stage decisions would be led by "data not dates".

Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer urged the PM to tread carefully as the current restrictions must be the "last lockdown".

The PM finalised his roadmap with ministers this afternoon ahead of an evening news conference at 7pm.

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