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COVID-19 STATEMENT : 16th March 2020

COVID-19 STATEMENT : 16th March 2020

By Liam Hickey
16 March 2020
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The club suspends all football activity for the foreseeable future.

The club today puts forward a plan to suspend all games indefinitely for the safety of all. This action reflects the reality that all experts agree the situation will worsen and that it will not be possible for our Men's team to complete the National League season before all player contracts come to an end and member clubs start going out of business.

We have also notified London South East Regional Women's Football League that our teams will not be playing until it is safe to do so. We hope that all football authorities start working to the reality things are likely to get worse before they get better.

Our plan for the immediate future is to work closely with The National League to try and ensure the long term survival of all 68 member clubs, as well as make our space and facilities available for community/organisational use in combating the Covid-19 outbreak.

More information will follow, be kind to each other and look out for the vulnerable in our community. We'll see you soon.

---Covid-19 impact statement from the Chairman--

The most important thing at Dulwich Hamlet Football Club is our community and equality and wellbeing are at the heart of that and so it is important that every decision we take is assessed against those principles.

We were supportive of the decision to proceed with the National League fixtures as our correspondence with the league last week gave us confidence that the decision was being taken on the grounds of health and safety following the advice from the government at that time that sport should continue.

Over the weekend the position has changed with the government announcing an intention to end mass gatherings and considering other stricter controls and if that is now the position we believe it is important to implement that as soon as possible and then to act decisively to address the impact on football clubs.

At Dulwich Hamlet we have multiple teams and we compete in numerous competitions under the jurisdiction of multiple leagues and associations. On Sunday we made the decision to suspend our women’s team games due to concerns raised about the safety of players participating in matches and after discussions with our men’s team manager we must ensure we treat the men’s team equally and address their concerns about exposure to the virus. Furthermore if the advice is now that mass gatherings are no longer safe environments we must also place the wellbeing of our fans at the forefront of our decisions. This is not a matter of acting arbitrarily or outside of the decisions of football authorities, ensuring the safety of all people present at any sporting event has always overridden the obligation to fulfil a fixture. Whilst all National League South fixtures were fulfilled on the weekend other clubs in the National League system had to take their own decisions if they were aware of a risk to their participants and take their own decision on safety grounds.

We have worked round the clock on multiple contingency plans to ensure the survival of the club when facing an immediate and total loss of income and we have been in constant contact with the National League and provided our blueprint to them which we believe would deliver a workable and affordable solution with the support of the FA to keep all 68 member clubs in existence until games can resume. We notified the National League on Friday that we believed the situation would change before their meeting scheduled for Monday and we have notified them of our obligations to act fairly and to ensure we are compliant with health and safety policies. We remain in constant contact with the National League board while we await their own decision on the overall league campaign, in the event the decision was taken to continue we would resume games as soon as we were able to comply with our responsibility to guarantee the safety of all staff and attendees.

We have also repeatedly put on record that we believe all governing bodies should be acting decisively and in line with the accepted evidence that we are months and not weeks from the situation improving to the extent that mass gatherings will be deemed safe to resume. Planning for an optimistic but unrealistic timeframe will simply delay the inevitable to a time when it is too late save clubs in the National League who are particularly vulnerable as they are high enough up the pyramid to incur significant playing costs but not high enough to receive significant amounts from non-matchday income such as media. They are wholly dependent on their matchday income and any business aware of an interruption of this scale must take immediate emergency action.

Whilst taking this decision places the future of the club into jeopardy the wellbeing of our community is more important and we hope the football authorities will adopt our recommendations on ensuring all 68 National League member clubs are able to continue.

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