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The FA release dates for the 2020/21 non league season

The FA have this weekend chosen to release dates for the 2020/21 non league season after the Government accepted a detailed proposed resumption plan.

As statement published on Saturday, read: “The FA and the Leagues are aiming for a September start of competitive matches in the NLS; however, this is subject to change in accordance with Government guidance and approval for paying spectators, which may be published from time to time.

NLS (or relevant FA Competition) fixtures are proposed to commence on:

• Step 1 & 2: No earlier than Saturday, 5th September 2020
• Steps 3 & 4: Saturday, 19th September 2020
• Steps 5 & 6: From Saturday 5th September 2020


Clubs must complete their Action Plans for all aspects of this document as soon as possible to ensure that Leagues are able to start against these timetables”

The guidance also suggests that pre-season friendlies can start at the beginning of August, most clubs will have loosely arranged games, now dates can be confirmed (subject to clubs meeting the FA detailed requirements) and published.

The FA Return to football announcement to clubs included:-

The FA can confirm that the UK Government approved its plan for the return of outdoor grassroots football late last night, Friday 17 July 2020.

As a result, the grassroots football community now has the opportunity to return to football and prepare for the start of the new season.

The FA has been working hard over recent weeks to prepare guidelines for the safe return of grassroots football and, following Government approval, these can now be published.
Football activity can take place with necessary modifications in place to mitigate the transmission risk of COVID-19.

The FA would strongly recommend a phased return to competitive football activity as follows:

• Until 31 July – When ready, you can begin competitive training, with the overall group size (inclusive of coaches) being limited to 30 people;

• From August – Competitive matches to begin, for example, pre-season fixtures, festivals and small sided football competitions;

• From September – Grassroots leagues, men’s National League System, Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6, and FA Competitions can commence.

Separate guidance has been developed for clubs with teams competing in the men’s National League System (NLS) and the Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6. This will support these Clubs on the safe return of paying spectators and also the applicability of the guidance to facilities under Ground Grading conditions, to ensure the safe return of competitive matches.

Please note that at this stage, indoor football and futsal is not permitted. The FA will look to work with indoor facility providers to develop appropriate guidance for indoor formats as soon as possible.

James Kendall, Director of Football Development at The FA, said: “We are delighted that the Government has given the go-ahead for competitive grassroots football to return. The past few months have been some of the most challenging times not just for football, but across society, and today’s news will be welcomed by the grassroots football community all over the country.

“Now that we are able to look ahead to the new season, it’s crucial that we continue to do all we can to follow safety measures, both as advised by the government and specifically for football.

“I would encourage anyone returning to competitive grassroots football to take the time to read this guidance, prepare thoroughly and to adopt our recommended approach to phasing football back in. I would also like to thank you for playing your vital part in helping our great game to get going again.”

The FA has released key dates for the forthcoming season. These are subject to further approval of the Government and the Sports Ground Safety Authority:

Start Dates:The following start dates are proposed for the commencement of the 2020-21 Season and conditional on Spectator Approval;

Step 5 and 6: From Saturday, 5th September 2020 **Discussions to take place with Step 5 and 6 Leagues to determine each Competition start date, noting The FA Cup EP Round will be held on Tuesday, 1st September 2020.

FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round: Tuesday, 1st September 2020

FA Cup Preliminary Round: Saturday, 12th September 2020

FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round: Tuesday, 22nd September 2020

FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round: Saturday, 19th September 2020

FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round: Saturday, 10th October 2020

FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round, 26th September 2020

FA Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round, 17th October 2020

End date for the season: No later than Saturday, 15th May 2021

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