ENGLAND Hockey has published a roadmap of how it intends to restart competitive hockey after the coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body has devised a five-step plan to resuming hockey activity, and has produced four options for the structure and schedule of the 2020/21 season.

The 2019/20 professional and amateur hockey season was suspended on March 17, with leagues in the south west being determined by a points percentage calculation.

The 2020/21 season is due to begin in September, but this depends on how quickly the government eases lockdown restrictions in England.

The only hockey that is currently permitted is in groups of six while following strict social distancing guidelines, as per government guidance.

Following the government's own five-stage alert level system used to determine the prevalence of Covid-19 in the country, England Hockey has devised its own five-step plan for the return of the sport.

Three of these steps relate to training, and two relate to match play activities. These are as follows:

Training phase

Step 1: Training - One-to-one / household group

Step 2: Socially Distanced Training - Small groups but with social distancing in place

Step 3: Small Group Training - Small group training allowed with some closer contact allowed. Allowing for tackling/marking etc. (some age groups may be allowed to start this stage earlier)

Play phase

Step 4: Local Match Play - Intra club / local matches can happen but restrictions prevent leagues / main competitions resuming (e.g. if travel is still an issue due to car sharing or local lockdowns are in place)

Step 5: Full Competitive Match Play - Full leagues / competitions resume

England Hockey says we are now at step two of the plan, with further progression through the steps depending on government guidance.

The governing body stressed that these plans could change and that "the considerations set out here are all dependent on the ongoing nature of the Covid-19 pandemic and relevant government guidance".

It has also published four options for the 2020/21 season calendar, which will be dependent on how the situation progresses over the coming weeks and months.

For now, England Hockey recommends continuing to plan for the 2020/21 season as normal, which is classed as option A. Adjustments may be made to league and competition structuring and regulations to cater for managing potential disruption including incomplete season.

Option B will see an extension of the season past its traditional late March/early April finish if the season cannot start on time but is only delayed for a few weeks.

If neither of those scenarios are possible then England Hockey will consider a revised calendar for the 2020/21 season (option C) should there be insufficient time to run a normal length season.

Some activities may be removed in this scenario depending on the circumstances. Alternative formats for competitions and leagues will be developed including potentially splitting leagues in the latter part of the season to create playoffs.

This option would only be enacted if there was a delay starting competitive hockey into mid-November or later, or is a second wave of infections caused more significant disruption.

Finally, there is the possibility an even later start may only allow for a shortened season to take place (option D). In this scenario in adult leagues it could be that all play all but only once either home or away.

The likelihood of implementation of Option C or D will be assessed over the coming months.

Implications for different sections of the sport such as the impact on officiating in each scenario, leagues adapting to issues such as possible localised lockdowns and indoor hockey will also be considered in due course.

England Hockey will review the position every three weeks around key government announcements, and will update the position for hockey in England whenever the circumstances change.

Chief Executive of England Hockey, Nick Pink said: "As we all continue to navigate this evolving landscape, the England Hockey team have been working hard to prepare the sport for a return to play and to manage the challenges ahead.

"By sharing our thoughts openly, we hope it enables the hockey community to work together, to plan ahead, and to help us to come back stronger.

"We plan to engage with you as much as possible as we look to set a course and encourage as much alignment as possible to ensure the sport as whole can thrive.

"The long-term health of the overall sport will always remain at the heart of our decisions."