THE Government has given outdoor competitive grassroots football in England the green light to return imminently, the Football Association has announced.

Groups of a maximum of 30 people, including coaches, can now begin competitive training before pre-season friendly matches are allowed to resume from Saturday, August 1, with the competitive games set to begin in September.

Football at all levels was suspended in March due to fears over coronavirus transmission, with many leagues later controversially declared null and void. The new season is set to start in September, a month later than normal.

Steps five and six of the National League System, which includes the South West Peninsula League, are set to start from Saturday, September 5, while steps three and four, which includes Truro City's Southern League Premier South, are due to begin on Saturday, September 19.

This extra two-week delay is to allow the early rounds of the FA Cup to take place.

The first two preliminary rounds of the FA Cup are slated for Tuesday, September 1 and Saturday, September 12, while the FA Vase is set to start on Saturday, September 19.

The Government is yet to approve a separate proposal allowing spectators, meaning all games will be played behind closed doors until further notice.

The aim is for this approval to be given in time for the start of the competitive matches in September, with the National League System having earlier stated that the season cannot start until at least some supporters can attend.

James Kendall, Director of Football Development at The FA, said: “We're delighted that the Government has given the go-ahead for competitive grassroots football to return. The past few months have been some of the most challenging times not just for football, but across society, and today’s news will be welcomed by the grassroots football community all over the country.

“Now that we are able to look ahead to the new season, it’s crucial that we continue to do all we can to follow safety measures, both as advised by the government and specifically for football.

“I would encourage anyone returning to competitive grassroots football to take the time to read this guidance, prepare thoroughly and to adopt our recommended approach to phasing football back in. I would also like to thank you for playing your vital part in helping our great game to get going again.”

There are several conditions that must be met in order to ensure that games and grounds are Covid-secure, with all clubs required to complete a risk assessment on how they can implement

appropriate measures to reduce the risk of transmission. This risk assessment must be published by clubs by Saturday, August 15.

All clubs will need to appoint a Covid-19 Officer from their board or trustees, with this person responsible for ensuring that club risk assessments are completed and actions undertaken.

Key dates:

Saturday, August 1: Pre-season friendlies can begin behind closed doors

Saturday, August 15: Deadline for clubs to complete and publish risk assessments

Friday, August 21/Saturday, August 22: Falmouth Town's 2019/20 Walter C Parson League Cup semi-final

Saturday, August 29: 2019/20 Walter C Parson League Cup final

Tuesday, September 1: FA Cup extra preliminary round

Saturday, September 5: SWPL season could begin

Saturday, September 19: Southern League Premier season could begin

Saturday, September 19: FA Vase first preliminary round