Puritans looking to resume playing in December


Planning for games next month underway, but any easing of coronavirus restrictions for Christmas may affect matches

The resumption of football games at the Banbury Plant Hire Stadium could be possible in December following a Southern League Statement issued yesterday.

Banbury United last played on December 7th when they took on Canvey Island in an FA Cup First Round match.   This game took place shortly after the latest lockdown period began.  The Football Association and Government agreed that Banbury, along with all other teams in the competition, could continue to play in the FA Cup behind closed doors.   However, all other matches for clubs at Banbury’s level were postponed.

The current lockdown period is due to end on December 2nd.   In readiness the Southern League has contacted clubs with a questionnaire regarding a restart date.  

In a statement they said: “Having taken into consideration the answers to the questionnaire sent to clubs regarding the restart date, the Pitching In Southern Football League will officially restart on Saturday, 12th December 2020, as voted for by 59% of clubs, provided that the second lockdown finishes on 2nd December 2020 as planned.

“If not, the league may need to look again at the situation. However, should any club wish to restart on either Saturday 5th December or the following midweek or, indeed, play matches on both dates, the league would have no objection.

“The season will restart based on the four divisions and the fixtures already scheduled or being re-scheduled by the league.

“The league is looking to re-arrange as many matches postponed during the lockdown period that would have experienced excessive travel times for a Saturday later in the season.

“The league season is still scheduled to finish on Saturday 8th May, with play-off semi-finals on Tuesday, 11th May and play-off finals on Saturday, 15th or Sunday, 16th May.”

Banbury United plan to host a friendly against Daventry Town on Saturday 5th December in preparation for the proposed restart the following week.

Currently it remains unclear as to what will happen when the current lockdown period expires, although the government’s official position is that the country would return to a tiered system.   Which tier the Banbury area is put into will determine whether Banbury would be allowed to play and whether supporters would be allowed into the Banbury Plant Hire Stadium.

With increasing calls for restrictions to be eased at Christmas one Public Health England (PHE) director has said the public will need to make “every effort” to keep coronavirus cases low in December to make that possible.

Dr Susan Hopkins, a senior medical adviser to the Government’s COVID-19 response, suggested tougher restrictions could be needed either side of Christmas if some relaxation of the rules was allowed over the festive period.

She told a Downing Street briefing: “We are very keen that we have a Christmas as close to normal as possible.

“That requires all of us to make every effort over this national restriction period and even in early December to get the cases as low as possible and to reduce the risk of transmission within households and between families.

“A final decision will rest with the Government and we look forward to hearing what those plans are.

She said scientists had suggested one day of greater freedom required five days of restrictions.

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