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Firstly, thank you for your patience during what has been, and continues to be, the most testing of times for all involved with our sport.
Over the past few days, once it became apparent that a Tier 3 assignment was likely in our region given the rising number of COVID related cases, we have been hard at work analysing and understanding many sources of information including participant post code data whilst working in collaboration with Essex County FA to ascertain the best pathway forwards.
We have had it confirmed that travel between adjoining Tier 3 counties is not allowed thus meaning that players, management or spectators residing in areas under Essex County Council (and further afield) cannot travel in to London boroughs or visa-versa for the purpose of grassroots sport. For example, a match due to take place in Loughton (part of an Essex borough) could not involve any players who live in London boroughs. Equally, players who live in Loughton could not travel to Hainault (within the London Borough of Redbridge) to take part in a game. Naturally, this puts a big hurdle in front of our clubs in fielding teams, in many instances even leaving sides without eleven players for a fixture.
Given that the number one priority remains always to protect the safety of everyone connected with the league, the management committee feel that it would be irresponsible to put teams in a position where they are reliant of players travelling against the regulations and equally unfair for some sides to play and others not which would leave an imbalance to the league standings in terms of games played.
We are therefore left with no other option but to postpone all fixtures this Saturday 19th December 2020 which will provide clubs and the league with the opportunity to review their playing “resources” in time for a hopeful a restart in January, matching teams with local opponents where possible.
There is no decision that we could make that would keep everyone happy, but we have taken the small amount of time we had to consider every option and believe this to be the fairest outcome for the time being. Like you all, we are true football fans, many with involvement with clubs of our own. This is not a decision taken lightly and we fully understand the far reaching ramifications of football being halted once again.
The next government review of the tier system is on 30th December 2020 at which time we will be better placed to assess what is achievable in the early stages of 2021. For the time being, we wish you all the best for the extended festive break ahead and look forward to seeing you all back out on the pitch soon.