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The FA has provided an update on ‘non-elite’ football in advance of Step 3 of the Government’s roadmap.

On Monday 17 May, as part of the next step of the Government’s roadmap out of national lockdown, there will be further changes to the restrictions on ‘non-elite’ football. ESFA guidance has, therefore, been updated to reflect this. The key changes to note are in relation to spectators, indoor hospitality and indoor football and futsal.

This updated guidance comes into effect on Monday 17 May and until then all participants should follow the FA’s guidance for Step 2.

The key changes to be aware of are:


From Step 3, spectators will be permitted to view events on both public and private land but need to adhere to social distancing rules and social gathering limits set at groups of 30 outdoors and six people/two households indoors. Please note that multiple numbers of these group sizes are permitted as long as social distancing rules are followed.

Spectators are allowed indoors, but the total number of all participants, coaches, officials and spectators must comply with the ventilation rates permitted by the particular venue.

At larger events, capacity limits for spectators, set by the Government will apply. For indoor events this is 1,000 or 50% of capacity and for outdoor events this is 4,000 or 50% of capacity (whichever is lower in both cases).

Indoor Hospitality

As part of Step 3 of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, both outdoor and indoor hospitality at ‘non-elite’ football is permitted. All participants must follow Government guidance on hospitality settings and specific advice for sport facility operators available on the Government’s website. People using clubhouses and hospitality facilities must adhere to legal gathering limits and wider government guidance.

Indoor Football and Futsal

From Step 3, indoor gatherings of either six people (the ‘rule of six’) or two households can take place. This means that organised indoor adult and children's football can return.

For organised indoor sport and physical activity, there’s no limit on group numbers so long as people adhere to capacity restrictions on indoor facilities. The maximum occupancy of each indoor facility should be limited by providing a minimum of 100 square ft per person.

This guidance applies to all youth and adult football and futsal, including all formats of the game. If there are any further updates from the Government, ESFA will communicate these in due course and ESFA will continue to update their guidance as we move through the different steps of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

It is extremely important that clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents, carers, and facility providers continue to strictly follow both the UK Government's latest guidance on COVID-19 and respective bespoke guidance documents from the FA.


The person in the centre of the photograph played for DCSFA in season 1964-65. He had a trial for the ESFA U15 team but made his name as cricketer rather than a footballer.

The above photograph was taken at the final ESFA U15 trial at Coventry in 1967. On the left is someone who played for DCSFA that season. He had a distinguished football career and was the first player to be transferred for £500,000. On the right is a Tottenham Hotspur legend who played over 800 games for the club.

On the left is someone who played for DCSFA and was an England schoolboy international at U15 and U18. He played in the 1973 cup final and gained a winner's medal. Also in the photgraph is Mr R Walton, a past chairman of DCSFA, and Bobby Malt who played in the same district and County U15 team as the mystery player.


In the delayed 2019-20 FA Vase Final played at Wembley on 3rd May two members of Consett FC, the losing finalists, represented DCSFA. Darren Holden played for the U18s in season 2009-10. Jake Orrell also played for the U18s in seasons 2013-14 and 2014-15. Jake had the distinction of playing at Wembley in 2008 when Rickleton Primary School (Washington PSFA) were finalists in the ESFA U11 Schools' Cup for Boys.


Schools' Football Week 2021 is returning from 24th - 30th May.

The English Schools’ Football Association is delighted to announce the return of Schools’ Football Week, from 24th – 30th May 2021.

Schools’ Football Week is an ESFA initiative designed not only to highlight the huge scale of Schools' Football in England, but also as an opportunity for Associations, schools, teams and clubs from across the country to embrace schools’ football and the wellbeing benefits it provides to pupils and players. With the anticipated lifting of restrictions on school and youth sport, the ESFA is looking forward to the 2021/22 season and is keen, in the meantime, to draw attention to the wonderful world of Schools' Football that, despite challenges, has been ever present throughout the last 12 months. The main focus for Schools’ Football Week 2021 is to provide an opportunity for children to get outside, have fun and enjoy being able to play sport with their school friends, competitively or otherwise.

ESFA will be planning different activities to take place throughout Schools’ Football Week and they will keep you fully updated on these over the next few weeks. ESFA will be officially launching Schools’ Football Week on Monday 19th April when they will be able to share with you all of their plans. ESFA will be asking you to register activity taking place within your Association so they can celebrate the participation numbers from across England. ESFA will send the activity registration link to you on Monday 19th April and are already looking forward to seeing what everyone has planned this Schools' Football Week.

In the meantime…

ESFA are planning to host a specific day of activity on Wednesday 26th May, which will be known as Schools’ Football Week – Game On! On this day, they will be inviting all Associations, schools and colleges to host inter-house or intra-school tournaments – creating the biggest football match in the world! More details will be released, but in the meantime, please pop the date in your diary and think about how many matches, competitive or otherwise, that your school could host on the 26th May.


ESFA are very pleased that a version of their U11 Danone Nations Cup competitions will be able to go ahead for boys’ and girls’ district teams from April 2021. Unfortunately, once again in 2021 there will be no DNC World Finals, however the Danone Nations Cup team have been working on alternative ways to connect to players across the world. They have put together some information on their ‘Good Life Goals’, which are their child-friendly interpretation of UN goals and are encouraging young people, from all over the world, to vote for the most important ‘Good Life Goals’ to them. To find out more, please visit the DNC website here.


All documents relevant for restarting and maintaining schools’ football activity can be found on the ESFA website by using the following link. COVID-19 GUIDANCE

A summary of key points to consider from ESFA guidelines are listed for ease below:

  • Everyone should self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms before every training session or match. If you are symptomatic or living in a household with possible or actual COVID-19 infection you must not participate or attend.
  • Associations, schools and facility providers should ensure that their facility is compliant with current Government legislation and guidance related to COVID-19.
  • Competitive training is now permitted, with groups limited to a maximum of 30 people, including coaches.
  • Competitive match play is permitted, with social distancing in place before and after the match, and in any breaks in play.
  • Players and staff should sanitise hands before and after a game as well as scheduled breaks throughout a game or training session.
  • Ball handling should be kept to a minimum with most contact via a boot and the ball disinfected in breaks of play.
  • Football coaches and teachers are encouraged to limit persistent close proximity of participants during match play and training.
  • Goal celebrations should be avoided.
  • Equipment should not be shared, and goalkeepers should ensure they disinfect their gloves regularly in breaks in training or matches and thoroughly afterwards. Where possible, teachers and coaches should only handle equipment in training.
  • Associations: Where possible, players, coaches and officials should arrive changed and shower at home. Use of changing and shower facilities must follow government advice on the use of indoor facilities. Schools should follow approved guidelines relating to changing facilities regarding PE lessons and inter-school matches
  • Participants should follow best practice for travel including minimising use of public transport and walking or cycling if possible. People from a household or support bubble can travel together in a vehicle.  If mini-bus or coach travel is absolutely necessary, please follow advice contained within the guidance document below
  • Associations and schools should keep a record of attendees at a match or training session, including contact details, to support NHS Test and Trace.


As with all public liability policies the protection is in relation the third-party claims following injuries sustained or property damage claims. For this type of claim to be successful the claimant's solicitor would need to prove the Association had acted negligently. All risk assessments would need to be completed before events take place. For any insurance cover to be effective all activities must be in line with current guidelines, and in adherence with current Social Distancing protocols.

ESFA Evidence of Insurance document can be viewed here.



April 2021 click here

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