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Football Restart – Still No Real Involvement For Safety Officers

Hardly a day passes by now without the latest piece of drip-fed information about how the football authorities see the progression of “Project Restart”. We are aware that our colleagues who have been working remotely from their stadiums have been busy trying to get their ducks in a row to re-open them, but the landscape has been changing every day and they are having to work with a moving target. One day it is neutral stadiums, the next it is home and away stadiums. One minute they have to be preparing for a restart at their stadium whenever football restarts there, the next it’s less than a month away.

The FA juggernaut seems intent on getting restart to happen, but quite why there has been no real consultation processed with safety officers escapes me. Our colleagues know their stadium and are best-positioned to offer the levels of advice and guidance the competition providers need.

Add to that the frightening amount of expertise among safety officers who have recently retired from the front line but whose knowledge could play a vital role right now and who would almost certainly make themselves available if called upon. Think about Phil Rainford, Peter Fletcher, Ged Pointon, Jill Dawson and that’s before we get to the technicians like our own John Newsham and former corporates such as Steve Frosdick. The expertise the FA needs is right here waiting for them and this would enable us to move forward confidently if we are forced to stage matches as the (hopeful) wind-down from Covid-19 takes place.

The FSOA is still concerned that by bringing back football too quickly is likely to be a scary experience. We cannot predict how the spread of Covid-19 might still play out and the prospect of death as a result of a visit to one of our colleagues’ stadiums is something that none of us wants to see.

In an article by David Conn in today’s Guardian, John Newsham has again aired these concerns with his belief that the money-before-safety scenario is not one he agrees with. This may not please the FA/PL but we are still convinced that should the worst happen as a result of one of these matches, then the responsibility will find its way to the safety officer’s door, eventually.

So, the football authorities have sent out a 40-page dossier on post-Covid-19 safety issues with details of how they want things to play out. All we would say is read these conditions in conjunction with John’s Risk Analysis and make sure your Risk Assessment covers all bases.

We have not seen what these dossiers look like, but we are confident that John’s document lays an excellent foundation for you writing the Risk Assessments. We are holding a worked example of how they should be completed, so please contact us  – info@fsoa.org.uk – if you need some help.

Below is the link to David’s article:

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