Government updates to the Covid-19 guidance which came into effect from the 4th July to reflect changes to social distancing guidelines and along with the earlier introduction of support bubbles which came into effect on the
10th June football training and fitness activities in groups of no more than six (including a coach), keeping socially distant at all times was now being permitted.

In mid-July the FA advised that the following should be followed for the return of outdoor competitive grassroots football:

Until the 31st July, competitive training, with the overall group size (inclusive of coaches) being limited to 30 people.
From August, outdoor competitive football matches to begin, for example pre-season fixtures, festivals and small sided football competitions.
From September, Grassroots leagues, men’s National League System, Women’s Football Pyramid tiers 3 to 6, and FA Competitions can commence.

Following the guidelines Lavant once more began training on the village green in small groups and in August they arranged and played a number of friendlies. All away from Lavant and Raughmere Park.

The Raughmere Park had been handed over to the building developers Sunley as agreed in early May and the goals and football equipment had all been all removed and the field left to the rabbits.

There was an agreement made for the club to move on a temporary basis to Florence Rd in Chichester whilst a new pitch was being constructed in a field directly across the road from the village hall.

But due to the Pandemic the Council did not have the pitch ready for use at the start of August and then it transpired that the contract with the Council, Lavant FC and Sunley had not been signed by Sunley, as they were not now intending to start the housing development until the following May 2020. But failed to notify anyone.

Frantically during August Raughmere Park was reinstated, goals reinstalled and the pitch fully marked out.  Unfortunately the pitch was a little wear as it had be let go fallow for 3 months.

Friendlies included away to Hunston, Wickham Arms, Sidlesham, Newtown Villa, East Dean and Pagham U23’s.

All games had to be played follow strict protocols. Each Club had to have an appointed Risk Officer and the club had to complete a full risk assessment as set out by the FA.

The key elements of it should cover;

Social Distancing
Facilities/Changing Rooms/Toilets
Travel Arrangements
Details of players taking part (Track & Trace)

It is the responsibility of the Home Club to complete the Assessment but it is also the responsibility of the Away Team to ensure that the correct measures are in place and view a copy.

At the end of August the West Sussex league announced that the football season would begin on the 19th September as long as the Government guidance did not change.

Lavant organised three more friendlies at the start of September, verses Wittering Utd, The Crown and East Preston U23’s.

The 2020-21 Season finally got underway on the 19th September following the strict Government guidelines, which included no use of changing rooms, everyone having to register for each game using a QR code at the pitch, getting changed at the pitch, with both teams segregated on the side lines. Plus no spectators.

The season then only lasted six weeks up until the 24th October, with both teams recording victories on the Saturday with the 1st team winning away 2-3 to Rudgwick in a fantastic game after losing the home fixture earlier in September 0-5.
Plus the Reserves winning at home to Whyke Utd 7-4.

On the 14th October a new three-tier system of Covid Restrictions were brought in for England.

On the 31st October the Prime Minister announced a second lockdown in England to prevent a “medical and moral disaster” for the NHS.

2nd December the second lockdown ends after four weeks and England returns to the stricter three-tier system of restrictions.

The West Sussex League at this point planned to resume fixtures as of the 12th December.  Therefore completing the fixtures on the 12th and 19th December just prior to the Christmas Break, with fixtures beginning again in the New Year on the 9th January 2021. The Junior & Intermediate cup games have already been rescheduled for January 2021.

So Lavant resumed training again and also both teams arranged more friendlies in preparation for the league re-start.  Lavant 1st team played Unicorn Reserves and the Reserves played Hunston.

The fixtures on the 12th December saw Lavant’s first team at home to Capel and the Reserves away to AFC Littlehampton on the 3G All Weather pitch at the Arena, Bognor. There were mixed results on the day with the first team losing five-one and the Reserves winning eight-nil.

On the 19th December the Prime Minister announced tougher restrictions for London and the South of England with a four-tier system being introduced.  Everyone being advised to stay at home. Very shortly afterwards travel between counties became very difficult especially if the tiers were not at the same level in adjoining counties.

The West Sussex League had teams and players in neighbouring Hampshire and Surrey so within a week the travel meant some teams were unable to play fixtures and so in the end the league had no choice but to suspend the 2020-21 league season once more.

Restrictions got even tighter over the Christmas break and then on the 6th January England goes into it s third Lockdown.

22nd February after the Lockdown appeared to be working and the Prime Minister published a roadmap to lifting the Lockdown.

Following this announcement the West Sussex League suggested it may be possible to re-start the league once more at the end of March 2021.

But considering a number the following:

1. The use of changing rooms has not been addressed
2. There is a possibility of running the season until the end of June
3. Availability of pitches during May/June
4. The availability of referees
5. Are the County Cups still running
6. The fact that the ‘Covid Virus’ will still be amongst us
7. The League has a new Player Registration cut off on 16th March
8. Bear in mind that clubs have around 12/14 games to play so that and early May finish is not an realistic option
9. Bear in mind all Step 3-6 Football has been cancelled already.
10. This really needs to be an all or nothing arrangement to maintain the integrity of the League

The league then canvased a response from each team and of the 64 teams that responded

31 Clubs in favour of completing the season
20 Clubs were against completing the season
5 Clubs no response
8 Clubs replied with Reservations; Pitches/Changing Rooms/Covid Restrictions/Player dedication/Cricket.

In overall terms only 48% of clubs definitely wanted to and felt able to finish the season into June if necessary
The ‘NO’ votes are spread fairly evenly amongst the Divisions

After very careful consideration and with great regret the League decided that is is not tenable to complete the season as it was started.

Final West Sussex Premier League Table positions


Pos Team P W D L GD PTS
1 Capel First 7 6 1 0 18 19
2 West Chiltington First 6 5 0 1 11 15
3 Upper Beeding Reserves 7 4 0 3 3 12
4 Lavant First 7 3 1 3 -13 10
5 Rudgwick First 8 2 3 3 3 9
6 Sompting First 5 2 2 1 5 8
7 The Unicorn Bognor Regis First 5 2 1 2 -4 7
8 Stedham United First 6 1 2 3 -6 5
9 Southwater First 6 1 1 4 -5 4
10 Newtown Villa First 7 0 1 6 -12 1

West Sussex Division II South League Table


Pos Team P W D L GD PTS
1 Felpham Colts Mens First 6 6 0 0 20 18
2 Arundel Reserves 6 6 0 0 18 18
3 Fernhurst Sports First 7 3 2 2 0 11
4 Whyke United First 8 3 1 4 -3 10
5 Lavant Reserves 6 3 0 3 11 9
6 Milland First 6 3 0 3 -4 9
7 Delunited First 8 2 0 6 -14 6
8 AFC Littlehampton First 5 1 1 3 -12 4
9 Yapton First 5 1 0 4 -6 3
10 Bosham Reserves 5 1 0 4 -10 3

Although the 2020-21 league season had been cancelled the West Sussex League did offer the teams that wanted to try and continue to play football the opportunity to enter into a Group competition, a number of small leagues made up of local teams that would play each other once.  Referee’s also agreed to be paid set fees and would also only referee local games where possible.

There were 12 Groups in total.

Both Lavant’s Frist and Reserves enter the mini competition and there was a total of  six teams in each league.  So each clu would complete five games.

The league started 10th April and completed on the 8th May.

Final Group positions were:

(Newtown Villa & AFC Southbourne withdrew part way through the competition)