The short term future of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship might just become a little clearer this week with the Government set to launch the first of a series of meetings to discuss the return of sport following the Coronavirus pandemic.
The UK remains in lockdown until at least 7 May with the Government set to review the measures should five key factors be met. At that point, there is a chance that some of the lockdown restrictions will be reduced, although an element of the social distancing measures are certain to remain in place.
BBC Sport announced yesterday that a series of Government meetings will begin this week to discuss the potential return of sport, a move which will include football. A number of factors are likely to be discussed including matters such as player testing for the virus, behind-closed-doors matches and the number of staff required at each sporting event. Recommended timescales for the potential return of football could also be drafted, although they would surely remain subject to change in the event of a second wave of the virus .
Could these meetings mean that the immediate future of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and the FA Women’s Championship will become clearer? By the end of the meetings, we are likely to know whether the season can be continued or whether the medical advice and science behind the virus will leave The Football Association with no other option than to terminate, void the competitions or suspend them for a further considerable amount of time.
All 23 clubs are preparing themselves of the prospect of completing the season with no fans, there seems no viable option to allow the paying public to attend games for the time being. Plans to stage the remaining Barclays FA Women’s Super League fixtures at a neutral base behind-closed-doors have already been discussed while FA Women’s Championship club Lewes have recently revealed that they are exploring options of screening all behind-closed-doors games on a pay-per-view basis.
There has clearly been plenty of talk about staging matches and completing the season but what the Government’s meetings may now do is also provide The Football Association with some clear guidance regarding the safety of players of a day-to-day basis such as how team training can be held and whether small groups should be maintained in each session. There may also be some indication of how clubs can prepare for matches taking into account social distancing and the Government could offer an idea of how many members of staff can be present at a fixture at any one time.
All of this is nothing but speculation of course, however, it is hoped that one way or another, clubs, players, non-playing staff, fans and the media can finally gain some clarity on how the 2019/2020 season will come to an end.