Grassroots and NPL football around the country was suspended in March in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic  but with restrictions beginning to eased, FNSW was able to announce its return today. 

NSW has recorded just three cases of locally acquired COVID-19 in the past week.

The move ends a period of uncertainty surrounding the state's senior NPL competition. Sydney United Head Coach Zeljko Kalac, earlier told The Daily Telegraph that not running it would be "suicidal" and "catastrophic" for young players' development. 

To mitigate disruption, promotion and relegation will not be enforced in the revised format, which will feature a two-week finals series at the end of the home-and-away season.

Both senior and U20 NPL sides are included in the plans, while U18 squads will play alongside other youth age grades.  

NPL1 side Sutherland Sharks, NPL2 side Mounties Wanderers and WNPL2 side Western NSW FC will not be competing in the new competition.

“I want to pay tribute to all our clubs, administrators, officials, volunteers, players and coaches who have worked together to ensure NPL football would continue to be played this season,” Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge said.

“I would like to thank everyone for their patience, understanding, unity and commitment to play despite these challenging times.

“We look forward to showcasing many of our top-level matches on our new NPL.TV streaming platform.”

Elsewhere, the announcement of local lockdowns by the Victorian State Government in the face of an uptick in COVID-19 infections in Melbourne has left Football Victoria (FV) scrambling to salvage any plans of a 2020 season. 

The restrictions, which come into effect at midnight tonight, will outlaw any football in the lockdown postcodes, and stop locals who live within them travelling to play football in unaffected areas.

Victorian health authorities announced 74 new diagnoses of COVID-19 on Wednesday, up from 64 on Tuesday, as various State Governments around the country moved to limit travel to and from the state. 

"FV’s intention is to continue to run competitions where possible - within part of a geographic footprint if required - where clubs are unaffected by this announcement," the federation said in a statement posted on their website last night.

"Guidance to all clubs, participants and stakeholders will be provided as quickly as possible, once further clarity has been established as to how this affects our Return to Play plan.

"We will continue to liaise with Sport and Recreation Victoria and the Department of Health and Human Services to obtain the latest information." 

Boy's junior NPL football had been slated to return in the nation's second-largest Member Federation this weekend, with junior girl's NPL and community juniors targeted to resume the weekend after and senior competition's earmarked for the weekend of July 25 and 26.