Matt Hancock says Government wants grassroots football back 'as soon as we safely can'

May 21, 2020

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said the Government wants grassroots football to return "as soon as we safely can".

The easing of some lockdown measures last week saw golf courses in England permitted to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, with basketball, tennis and fishing also given the green light subject to safety protocols.

Meanwhile, non-contact sports, including tennis and golf, are also set to resume in Scotland from next week.

As a contact sport, the date of football's resumption on a grassroots level is unknown, although Hancock remains hopeful the public can be allowed to play the sport before a vaccine is found.

Speaking at the government's daily briefing on Thursday, Hancock said: "I very much hope we don't have to wait for a vaccine. Some of the projects we're putting in place like this testing and tracing are there to try and hold the number of new cases down whilst allowing more social distancing measures to be lifted."

He added: "We want grassroots football back as soon as we safely can."

Whitty: Possible changes in how game is played

Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, added that the public may have to play football with rule changes before a vaccine is found.

"So I definitely hope that football will be available - possibly with some degree of change of how it's played, there may have to be some ways we think it through - in advance of a vaccine," Professor Whitty said.

"My very strong hope, and I'm sure this is a strong hope of everybody's, is football is well before we get right out to that right-hand end of that path."

Testing has allowed the Premier League to enter Phase One of training ahead of a potential return to action in mid-June, while Championship players will be given the option to self-test for coronavirus ahead of a planned return to training on Monday.

Further down the football ladder, there were crunch talks regarding League One on Wednesday, while League Two have already voted to end their season early, pending approval from the EFL and the FA.

The National League opted to end their season early back in April, while the FA also announced results for the 2019/20 season would be expunged for non-League divisions below the National League and National Leagues North and South.

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