31 May, 2020
Dear Club Presidents, Players, Referees, Coaches, and all football family members,
We write to provide you with an update on the ‘Return to Football’ program of work that Football Victoria (FV) is currently undertaking on your behalf. We are pleased to advise that tomorrow sees another easing of Victoria’s social gathering restrictions, where up to 20 participants - including coach/support staff - can now participate in a ‘non-contact’ training session. This is an important milestone for those clubs that have been able to open their facilities to welcome back their players to football. We have updated our “Return to Training” conditions, which were sent to all clubs on Friday 29 May and uploaded to our 'Return to Football' portal. All clubs must read and implement these conditions before returning to training. Please liaise with our Club Ambassadors should you require assistance with your respective Local Government Authorities around these guidelines and accessing your facilities in a timely manner. Our current advice from the Victorian State Government is that these conditions may change again on 22 June, as part of the ongoing assessment into restrictions on social gatherings in the State. There may also be an update to the conditions this week following further advice from Sport & Recreation Victoria (SRV). We are pleased to advise that tomorrow, Monday 1 June, we welcome our football competitions team back to full time operations. This will allow us to further progress our return to football, in line with the competition target start dates, an update on which is provided below. We are aware that many clubs are seeking information in relation to specific competition matters and we ask that you enable the team time to work through these questions over this week. In the meantime, we have produced a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document of the most common asked questions we have received. To date, our Club Ambassadors, competitions team and other staff have received and participated in a significant number of feedback initiatives from our clubs. As you would have seen, this has provided critical insights in relation to the development of our 'Resumption of Football principles', released last week. These guiding principles reiterate the following;
We will continue to follow the advice of the Victorian State Government to ensure it is safe to return to football;
Football Victoria is working with clubs, players and referees to combine our collective best endeavours for football to be played this year;
We understand some clubs and players will choose not to play this year for COVID-19 related reasons;
We will seek to maintain the competitive integrity of our modified competitions.
We will write to clubs again this week with an update on competition details relating to the league each club participates in. This advice will be followed up with further online information sessions, for clubs to provide additional feedback and ask the questions most relevant to their environments. On the back of the recent easing of restrictions from the Victorian Government, Football Victoria recently communicated with its community that it would be targeting the resumption of competitive match dates as follows;
For our elite pathway National Premier League (NPL) Junior Competitions, the proposed resumption of competitive matches is 27 June (revised from 20 June);
For Community Clubs Juniors, the proposed resumption of competitive matches is 28 June;
For Community Clubs Seniors, the proposed resumption of competitive matches is 11 July (revised from 28 June);
For our senior NPL competitions, the proposed resumption of competitive matches is 10 July.
We emphasise that these are only target dates and are subject to further advice from the Federal and State Chief Health Officers and may be revised should the Victorian Government and SRV advise new dates as we move through the announced stages for the resumption of sport. We have formally written to the Victorian Government requesting that we commence “competitive training and matches” as from 22 June 2020. In response to feedback we have received from clubs, we have sought clarity on the following points on your behalf:
In requesting the above, a lead-in time prior to the commencement of competition would provide us with preparation time for fixturing and engaging our clubs in their own planning. This lead-in time would be required for each stage of the roadmap;
The number of people who can gather at competitive training and matches and a roadmap on how these limits can be increased over a pre-determined timeline. This will assist at the top end of our competitions, as these clubs heavily rely on the revenue generated from gate takings and canteens (as below). We would like the road map to start from gatherings of 100 and increasing to 500 as the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic improves;
The use of the canteen facilities, which are the lifeblood of community sports clubs and crucial to their ability to raise funds;
Indoor club rooms/social clubs/changerooms to be reopened with clear guidelines on how these can be opened within the roadmap;
We see the need for the Victorian Government and SRV to advocate to Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and Local Government Authorities to support the roadmap, minimising hurdles clubs and associations will have to overcome to comply with each level of guidelines and conditions.
FV is reviewing the 2020 season fees and competition structures with a view to accommodating the financial impacts across players, clubs, and Football Victoria itself. On 25 May 2020, applications opened for SRV's Community Sport Sector Short-term Survival Package grants. Eligible sports clubs can apply for $1,000 grants to help cover ‘immediate financial needs’ as COVID-19 restrictions ease and we look to return to football. FV has reviewed SRV's grant guidelines and put together guidance to assist clubs that wish to apply for this financial assistance. Armed with this guidance, the process is simple and should take no more than 30 minutes to complete online. Please find this guidance here. While we hope that this guidance will help you to put together a strong application, FV is not able to guarantee the success of any application. In closing, I would like to thank you for your continued patience, resilience, and cooperation during a very difficult time for the football community and community in general, as we navigate these unprecedented times.
Sincerely yours in football,
Peter Filopoulos Chief Executive Officer Football Victoria