Players, clubs and spectators have been urged to play their part by observing rules and government guidance to prevent grassroots football being locked down again.
Amateur games kicked off in Cumbria and across the country last month after the national FA and politicians agreed a road map for resumption.
In a letter to county clubs this week, Cumberland FA chief executive Ben Snowdon said he would be forever “indebted to all those volunteers who worked so hard on completing the necessary risk assessments, putting measures in place to ensure that we could commence with the 2020-21 season”.
But he noted that with an ever-increasing number of cases within the county, a question mark hung over how long the current state of play could continue.
“On top of this, and specifically following the recent tiered guidance, where limits were placed on others areas of our lives (weddings, funerals etc), football appears to be one of the areas that is under scrutiny from those who do not believe that football should be allowed and certainly not in the numbers that we currently see at games,” Mr Snowdon wrote.
“In the last couple of weeks, I have received several calls from irate members of the public regarding the attendance at games — parking around areas, litter etc.
“This has led to reports being received by local councillors and the police.
“Therefore, at this moment in time I am worried that football is in danger of becoming the latest scapegoat (like pubs and restaurants).”
Mr Snowdon spoke of his personal experience of the pandemic effects and accepted that “as a person and as a member of the county FA I must do everything I can to support the region’s most vulnerable people during this difficult and confusing time”.
“Before the gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions began in July, I received numerous phone calls from people who stressed that football needed to return to not only bring about a much-needed sense of normality, but more specifically to protect the mental wellbeing of players, as football provided an opportunity to see friends, socialise in ‘real space’, provide some sort of routine and ‘reconnect with life’,” he said.
“I am therefore appealing to all of our clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents, carers, and facility providers — whether you believe in or agree with both the UK Government’s latest guidance on COVID-19 and respective bespoke guidelines from the FA — to play your part and follow the guidance.
“We cannot guarantee that football will not be locked down again, but in order to best protect the game it is essential that we follow the guidance and at least try to keep it going for as long as we can.”