Mag­pies cau­tiously plan­ning for kick-off

Windsor & Eton Express - - Sport -

There is still plenty of un­cer­tainty over when the new Na­tional

League sea­son will start, how­ever, Maiden­head United – and plenty of other teams in the same boat – are hav­ing to think about pulling to­gether a squad and putting plans in place for the new cam­paign.

At present the Na­tional League’s fo­cus is split be­tween com­plet­ing the cur­rent sea­son - with play-off matches in its three di­vi­sions set to start this month and con­clude at the be­gin­ning of Au­gust – how­ever, it’s also keen to pro­vide more clar­ity over when the new sea­son will kick-off.

Three weeks ago Na­tional League clubs were told to start pre­par­ing for a Septem­ber start, how­ever, it re­mains to be seen whether this is fea­si­ble, with so­cial dis­tanc­ing mea­sures still in place for most clubs. The play-offs are pro­gress­ing as planned this month but only be­cause clubs are pay­ing for COVID-19 tests and putting mea­sures in place to en­sure their grounds are safe to use.

“There is still lots of un­cer­tainty over when the sea­son will start,” said Jon Adams, Maiden­head United's chief ex­ec­u­tive. “They gave us an in­di­ca­tion that foot­ball might start again in Septem­ber but we’ve heard noth­ing on that since. But we have to plan on the ba­sis that it might start then. The league’s fo­cus has been on the play-offs and fin­ish­ing the cur­rent sea­son, but we’re be­gin­ning to fo­cus on be­gin­ning the new sea­son and be­ing pre­pared for pre­sea­son as and when that might be. This means we’ve been in dis­cus­sions with play­ers we want to keep and re­lease and we’re start­ing to do that and Dev is at the early stages of think­ing about pulling to­gether a squad for next sea­son.

“We haven’t yet been given any in­for­ma­tion about how we might de­liver pre-sea­son train­ing. But at some point in time, if we’re look­ing to get the sea­son up and run­ning, there will have to be a point where the play­ers come back for con­tact train­ing. It will be very dif­fer­ent to what we’ve got planned for our com­mu­nity pro­gramme, but we don’t know how yet so we need to be in a po­si­tion to adapt and change to make sure we’re op­er­at­ing within the guide­lines we’ve been pro­vided.”

The Mag­pies CEO ad­mits pro­ce­dures and mea­sures will be in place when the club fi­nally re­turns to com­pet­i­tive ac­tion, but feels it’s wrong to spec­u­late on what they might be at this time. He thinks it’s un­likely clubs will have to reg­u­larly test play­ers ahead of and dur­ing the new sea­son, but says the club must be pre­pared for what­ever ad­vice is is­sued by the league and Gov­ern­ment.

“The truth is that pro­fes­sional foot­ball is up and run­ning again,” he said. “And that in­volves con­tact train­ing.

“The chal­lenge we’ve got is how we’re go­ing to adapt in terms of keep­ing the play­ers and coaches safe dur­ing train­ing and then matches. I’m sure the re­quire­ments will be dif­fer­ent to what we’ve had in the past and we have to be ready for that.”

Maiden­head United mid­fielder James Com­ley.

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