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30-person rule remains but amendment offers new hope – Hockey Wales forced to change advice

Bangor 1876 fans are among the many thousands in Wales who continue to miss their football. Pic: Dafydd Hughes

The doors are open to let more people attend football matches in Wales.

Due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, the most recent Welsh Government guidelines confirm outdoor gatherings continue to be limited to 30 persons only.

At football games, coaches and match officials must be included in the 30-person limit.

However, there is now an amendment to the rule.

It states: “anybody who is there to organise or support the activity, if they are working or providing a voluntary service, can also attend and do not need to be considered within the limit of 30.”

The FAW will provide clarification in due course on which positions fall into this provision within the guidelines.

This change will make a return to football for tier 2-5 clubs, who have not kicked a competitive ball since March, more workable.

Last night’s announcements also mean Hockey Wales have had to change their guidelines.

HW stated last night that clubs can play friendly games with a maximum of 30 players – and that coaches, umpires, organisers and under-11s are exempt.

This would have meant hockey being no longer restricted by the maximum 30 persons rule that applies to football in Wales at present.

However, Hockey Wales have amended their website today, stating they must still abide by the 30-person rule, although those there to organise or support the activity, if they are working or providing a voluntary service, can also attend and are exempt from the limit of 30.

In a statement today, the FAW said: “The FAW, along with other governing bodies of sport, have lobbied and submitted paperwork and plans to the Welsh Government requesting that this limit be lifted for organised sport, in order to allow more people to play football safely under the FAW’s COVID-19 protocols.

“In its update to the guideline Q&As on 12 November, the Welsh Government has confirmed that there is no limit on the number of children under the age of 18 who can participate in or facilitate an organised sport activity for the development and well-being of children.

“There is no restrictions on travel within Wales following the removal of local lockdowns.

“The FAW continues to recommend that friendly matches played under the Return to Play Protocols are done so against teams within the same league or local authority boundaries. All friendlies must be sanctioned by the relevant body.

“Elite status is reinstated for the Cymru Premier and Welsh Premier Women’s League.

“A full fixture programme returns this coming weekend for both of the Tier 1 leagues. Fixtures can be viewed on CymruFootball.Wales.

“The FAW has proposed additional competitions to be included in an extended elite category.

“These competitions, however, must sit between the existing elite cohort (i.e. Cymru Premier & Welsh Premier Women’s League) and a community sport level (i.e. Tier 4 Men’s, Tier 2 Women’s and below).

“Therefore, this means that the FAW can only apply on behalf of the National Leagues, i.e Cymru North, Cymru South, Ardal Northern and Ardal Southern leagues.

“Sport Wales will make the decision on whether the elite category will be extended to these leagues. Club’s participating in leagues deemed ‘Recreational’ by the FAW Rules, Tier 4 Men’s and Tier 2 Women’s and below are currently unable to apply for this status.

“The FAW is fully aware of the frustration felt throughout the Welsh football family but it is important to recognise that the Association is not responsible for the national COVID-19 policies and guidelines.

“Along with other governing bodies of sport, the FAW must find a way to bring football back as safely as possible within the policies and guidelines set by Welsh Government, which are of course put in place to keep the nation as safe as possible during this unprecedented pandemic in modern times.

“The FAW has held a series of webinars with Area Associations, leagues and clubs this week to fully explain what the Welsh Government guidelines mean for Welsh football.

“Finally, the FAW and its staff continue to work hard for Welsh football and we all want the safe return of the game here in Wales.

“However, it is important to remind the Welsh Football Family that the impact of COVID-19 is also felt by the Association, which is set to make a significant financial loss as a result of the pandemic and continues to have many of its workforce on the UK Government furlough scheme, in order to prevent redundancies that would have a further detrimental effect on the game throughout the country.”

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