The FA Cup will go ahead as planned this weekend with the rest of professional sport despite the government’s announcement of a new national lockdown on Monday night that wiped out the amateur sport calendar.
All grassroots competitions and outdoor venues such as golf courses, tennis courts and swimming pools have been ordered to close immediately, but high performance sport may continue under the elite sporting protocols of the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sports.
The exemption means Premier League matches and FA Cup third round matches, which start on Friday night, can go ahead despite the presence of multiple teams from the bottom of the football pyramid.
Professional sport will continue as normal in England despite new lockdown measures
Marine’s tantalizing FA Cup fixture against Tottenham can go as planned this weekend
Three non-league teams – Marine, Borehamwood and Chorley – remain in the FA Cup, but it is understood that their ties may continue as the tournament is classified as an elite competition.
Tottenham, host of the Marine Premier League, will face Chorley Derby and Borehamwood will play in Millwall.
There are concerns over whether the divisions below the National Conference North and South may continue after Monday night’s announcement, while Premier League clubs are also looking into whether their Academy teams can continue to play and to train under the new restrictions, which are much stricter than the November lockdown.
Meanwhile, the FA has no plans to punish players who break Covid rules outside of football.
Scores of top footballers have been accused of flouting government restrictions in recent days, leading to calls for the players in question to be formally reprimanded by the sport’s governing body.
The news followed that of Scotland, who confirmed that elite sport will also continue as normal
But the competence to punish outside of sport does not lie with the FA but rather with the clubs.
A charge of discrediting the FA could trigger suspensions of competition for players, but although officials have a particularly grim view of the behavior of some footballers in recent days, it is understood that the protocol violations that have emerged fall outside the scope of within the competence of the organization.
The new lockdown is in some ways more brutal than last March, as the government desperately tries to keep the mutant coronavirus at bay while vaccines are being rolled out.
The third nationwide lockdown will see primary and secondary schools closed until at least mid-February.
University students are being asked to stay at home and study remotely, while exams will not go as planned. Nurseries can remain open.
Non-essential retail businesses, all hotels, gyms and swimming pools are to close across the country.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled new lockdown measures for the UK on Monday evening
Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve take out food – but in a tightening of draconian measures last spring, they will not be allowed to serve alcohol. Vulnerable people are told to protect themselves as much as possible. Community worship can continue with social distancing in place.
The public will only be allowed to leave their homes again for one of the following five reasons: going to work if essential, shopping, exercising – allowed with someone else from another household, take care of someone or seek medical help.
The third extraordinary national tightening will take effect as soon as the regulations are passed on Tuesday, but Johnson has urged the public to adopt the new rules now.
The announcement came after 58,784 new cases were recorded on Monday – a 42% increase from last Monday.
Health ministry chiefs also reported 407 more deaths, up just 14% from the figure recorded last week.