We're one more lockdown away from scrapping football season

Chichester City’s chairman fears local football is one more lockdown away from another abandoned season.

Oaklands Park is locked up again - until next week / Picture: Steve Bone
Oaklands Park is locked up again - until next week / Picture: Steve Bone

City’s Isthmian south east division is due to restart in the middle of December – as long as all areas in which it has clubs are in Covid tiers that allow grass-roots sport to be played.

The club are now frantically trying to work out where and when they can play fixtures, but City chairman Andy Bell said another shutdown in the first couple of months of 2021 could lead to the campaign having to be written off.

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With the national lockdown ending on December 2, the Isthmian League has set December 19 as its restart date, although some clubs are arranging games for before then.

City have lined up friendlies away to Portsmouth side Baffins and at home to Kingstonian on December 5 and 12. But ironically, December 19 is a free date for Miles Rutherford’s team – they were due to play Guernsey, who have pulled out of this season’s competition.

As it stands, Chi’s first game after the restart will be at home to Whitehawk on Tuesday, December 22.

Bell said: “It’s been quite peaceful for a few weeks but now we have chaos again!

“We’re starting to plan games but who knows if some areas covered by our league will have new restrictions put on them?

“It’s not just our first team we have to plan for, it’s the under-23s, under-18s, our women’s team – all have a lot of games to fit in.

“For our first team this new break came at the wrong time – just as we were getting into a nice bit of form.

“By the time we play again in the league we could have had a seven-week break between games, so when offered the chance of a mini pre-season with time for a couple of friendlies, we took it.

“It’s a competitive league this year and every game could be vital.”

Bell said many people seemed to be expecting the current lockdown would not the last of its kind.

“My personal feeling is that if there are any more interruptions, the season should be scrapped and we should just play local friendlies.

“If we can’t travel between different tiers, there will be a lot of games that can’t be played. Fixture secretaries must feel they are fighting a losing battle.”