With COVID-19 restrictions beginning to ease, Football Victoria has issues target dates for the resumption of community, junior and senior NPL football.
The announcement represents the next step in the governing body's moves to resume football after an easing of restrictions by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on May 11 allowed for the return of training for football clubs provided they observed social distancing requirements and limited themselves to groups of ten or less.
Grassroots football was initially suspended March 17 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold around the globe.
Presumptive of there being no further widescale outbreaks of coronavirus in Victoria, approval from Federal and State health officials, and a tick-off from the Victorian Government and Sport and Recreation Victoria, FV has targeted the following dates for the resumption of football.
- Community Football Clubs (including juniors): June 28
- NPL Juniors: June 20
- NPL Seniors: Early July
"Our decision to go public with these dates is indicative of our commitment to ensure that competitive football at all levels returns as soon as possible," FV said in a statement.
As a result of the latest easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Football Victoria has released target start dates for the proposed resumption of play: https://t.co/qwaUsSA0fA#LiveLoveFootball pic.twitter.com/DhK5WOtByO— Football Victoria (@footballvic) May 19, 2020
"Football Victoria will continue to keep the football community informed and updated in the coming weeks with regard to any developments, especially in regard to the resumption of increased training numbers and, ultimately, the return of competition play.
"Whilst we are delighted to see the manner in which our clubs have adjusted to the new realities of modified training and limited social contact, we remind our entire football community that any breaches of the existing social distancing rules may compromise our ability to resume football."
The announcement of the return to play targets come as FV continues to wrangle with the clubs that make up the senior ranks of its top-tier NPL competition around that league's return.
Ten of those 14 clubs have expressed resistance to the 2020 season - which was five rounds old at the time of its suspension in March - resuming this year due to concerns surrounding operating costs without live crowds, a loss of sponsorship due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 and doubts over the integrity of any proposed 2020 competition.
“At this time, it's the united position of our members that the resumption and conclusion of the 2020 senior men's NPL competition isn't financially viable," Australian Football Clubs Chairman Nick Galatas told FTBL on March 14.
Speaking to The Age on Tuesday, FV CEO Peter Filopoulos said that Hume City, Green Gully South Melbourne and Eastern Lions (the first two of whom have already announced a return to senior training) were keen to resume the season, alongside senior NPL2 and NPL3 clubs - who FTBL understands are unanimous in their willingness to return to play.