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With the first team squad returning to training and new arrivals signing in to join the Purple roller-coaster ride, thoughts are turning to when the football will start, who will be allowed in to watch the games and what going to the match will be like.
Many opinions are being voiced, plenty of confusion is being sown (not least by HM Government), and volumes of guidance are landing at the Purps HQ.
To try to make sense of it all and enable our supporters and volunteers to prepare for the upcoming season, COLFC is letting you know what we know.
First of all, the health and safety of all involved with COLFC, supporters, volunteers, players, officials and our matchday opponents, is paramount.
To this end, the Club Welfare Officer has worked through guidance from the government and the FA in order to produce a comprehensive risk assessment document from which matchday protocols will follow.
Things will be a bit different as we aim to ensure everybody remains safe while still enjoying the best matchday experience in non-league.
More detailed information will be provided as our home fixtures are announced.
As far as the players are concerned, the squad has been attending socially distanced training at the Purple Hub for several weeks now and, on Saturday, began full training in preparation for our pre-season programme.
Due to the extremely tight timescales and uncertainty about FA Cup fixtures, we are currently unable to finalise the pre-season fixture list.
However, confirmed pre-season fixtures at the time of writing are:
Tuesday 11th August – Cammell Laird (a)
Saturday 15th August – COLFC U19s @ Purple Hub
Saturday 22nd August – 1874 Northwich (a)
Tuesday 25th August – Vauxhall Motors (a)
Friday 29th August – Warrington Town (a)
Saturday 5th September – FC United of Manchester (a)
Unfortunately, as things stand, pre-season matches before 1st September will take place with no supporters present.
We are expecting a further announcement on this from the Department for Culture Media and Sport and will update you as soon as any further details are available.
However, current guidance is that supporters can attend matches from 1st September.
This is subject to the host club supplying a risk assessment document and putting appropriate measures in place within the ground in order to protect the public. COLFC will provide supporters with full details of such measures prior to each fixture.
It is unlikely that we will have a home pre-season friendly. A new “hybrid” pitch, which is due to be match ready in mid to late August, has been installed at the Berry Street Garage Stadium.
With Bootle’s NWCFL season due to start on 5th September, and a potential FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round taking place on 1st September, there is little to no opportunity to fit in a friendly match.
With regard to competitive football, our league season is scheduled to commence on 19th September.
This will be three days short of six months since our last match in the NPL, at Prescot Cables in February. Football starved Purps will be glad to know that our FA Cup journey may start earlier.
With 18 Step 4 clubs to be drawn from a pool of 180, there is a 9% chance of COLFC being drawn to play in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round on Tuesday 1st September.
If we are not drawn to play in this round we will enter the competition in the Preliminary Round on 12th September.
The Purps’ first step in the 2020/21 FA Trophy will take place on 26th September. As with the FA Cup, there will be no replays in this season’s FA Trophy.
Drawn matches in both FA competitions will go to extra time and, if necessary, penalties to ensure a result at the first time of asking.
We have not yet received confirmation from the County FA regarding the status of the Liverpool Senior Cup.
Since this competition was not declared null and void, we are assuming that the 2019/20 competition is still “live” and that we will face Bootle in a semi-final at some point.
We hope that you have kept safe and well since we were last together at the Purps, please continue to look after yourselves and keep an eye on our more vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours.
As the government ducks and dives its way with impunity through this crisis, our famous Scouse Solidarity is as important as it has ever been.