Eastbourne Borough shutting down for now - plus: see their goals of 2020

Eastbourne Borough’s season has hit a sudden road block.

Fans were back inside Priory Lane earlier in December - but it turned out to be for one game only / Picture: Lydia Redman
Fans were back inside Priory Lane earlier in December - but it turned out to be for one game only / Picture: Lydia Redman

Just when you thought it was safe, a single positive Covid test in the squad caused the postponement of the home Bank Holiday Monday game with Maidstone United.

The required isolation period also rules out the scheduled trip to Havant and Waterlooville this Saturday. Barring any further hiccup – or dry cough – the Sports will return to National South action with a home game against Billericay on Saturday week, January 9.

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There is an outside chance of the league slotting in a re-arranged game next Tuesday.

The Sports face a busy schedule, with 27 of their 40 league fixtures still to be played.

“It’s ironic,” said Borough CEO John Bonar. “We could not have been more careful, following protocols to the letter. But we are not dealing with just a small family bubble of four or five persons. The first team squad, players and staff extends necessarily to two dozen or more – and it only needs one to test positive.”

Borough chairman Dave Blackmore has led a remarkable team effort at Priory Lane, which – until East Sussex entered Tier Four – had seen National South fixtures continue, together with the club’s youth team coaching, and even a first-team game in front of real live spectators.

The frustration is not confined to Priory Lane. Of the 20 National South fixtures scheduled for last weekend, only five survived.

Respected local manager Steve King, currently in charge at pace-setters Dartford, told readers of the Non-League Paper this week that the semi-pro game needs a break.

Borough manager Danny Bloor is looking forward to getting playing again and is typically upbeat: “We have given ourselves a great platform for the next phase of the season. Who would have expected to find Eastbourne Borough sitting in fifth place?

“We will continue to work and to progress Eastbourne Borough FC on and off the pitch. This has been the most unusual year of any of our lives, but we’ve got through it.”

Meanwhile, the club have decided to close down all other club activities for now. A statement said: "Following numerous Zoom meetings and after looking at recent Government communications, Eastbourne Borough Football Club have made the following decision. With the exception of the Elite Sport (First Team) where FA and Government procedure and protocols are in place, all footballing activities at the club will cease with immediate effect.

"This suspension is to include any training, matches and external hire of the facilities. The suspension of activities will continue for an undeterminable timescale but will be reviewed in line with Government reviews, competitive youth leagues, schools returning and guideline changes. This has been a very difficult decision to make but considering the latest Government guidelines including the delaying of returning children to school, the club believe it is the correct decision to protect everyone connected with the club.

Further updates will be announced but everyone at Eastbourne Borough Football Club would like to thank everyone for their continued support in these very unusual and testing times. Happy New Year to all and please stay safe."