The conundrum facing clubs in the Peninsula League

Action from the Sidmouth Town 6-0 South West Peninsula League Premier East win over Stoke Gabriel. P

Action from the Sidmouth Town 6-0 South West Peninsula League Premier East win over Stoke Gabriel. Picture: MARK EBURNE - Credit: Archant

The South-West Peninsula League held a Board meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the possibility of staging a one-off tournament in April and May. 
It is believed the general response from clubs has been favourable to the idea but the quandary facing teams like Sidmouth Town is the balance of costs for staging a game at a time when there is no certainty about raising revenue through admission or hospitality. 
League Secretary Phil Hiscox admitted it will be very difficult for clubs at this level to properly enforce Covid restrictions, which leaves the prospect of an ad-hoc cup competition still in doubt. 
“There hasn’t been any real clarity from the FA and Government on what are allowed to do, or not allowed,” said Hiscox. “What we do know is the League season is finished but the FA have said cup competitions can be completed. 
“In addition, we are able to set up a subsidiary cup to have some football in April and May, and the response from the Peninsula clubs has been positive in this regard. 
“Grassroots outdoor sport can resume from March 29 but the problem comes with whether crowds are allowed. 
“Government rules suggest you cannot have crowds before April 12 but, from that date, pubs, for example, can open outdoors, so we might be able to have fans at football games. 
“Elite professional sport can have a percentage of their stadia filled from May 17 but, if you take a club like Sidmouth Town, they have to factor in the cost of staging a game without the guarantee of bringing in revenue. 
“Even if we do decide to proceed, the question is how do clubs police the rules? 
“Sidmouth have control on who can enter the ground but they are caught in an impossible position because the ground is not secure enough to play behind closed doors, and not public enough to ignore the restrictions. 
“If a club takes money from fans, they have to enforce the restrictions, which, as we have said, still lack clarity from the FA at our level of the game.” 

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