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Latest message from Pete Ackerley

It gives me great pleasure to confirm that BAFA affiliated clubs in England can now return to activity with immediate effect, providing our updated Return to Play guidance is closely adhered to. The following documents are now available to help support you:

Our Stage 4 guidance has been updated in line with changes to the UK Government’s guidance for grassroots sport and has also been restructured to make it easier to use, and our stage 5 guidance is brand new.  Please make sure you read everything thoroughly before returning to activity.

I would like to remind everyone that we are currently still at the beginning of our journey out of lockdown, and following these guidelines is the condition under which our sport is permitted by the UK Government to exceed current legal social gathering limits. Any activity that does not follow these guidelines or any informal activity that exceeds current legal gathering limits is therefore breaking the law. I would also like to emphasise the following points:

  • Spectators are not currently allowed at any American football activity sessions. Only those people actively participating in a practice session should attend.
  • Travel is allowed in order to participate in organised sporting activity and exercise but should still be minimised wherever possible. Cross-border travel into or out of Scotland and Wales to participate in American football activity is not currently permitted.
  • As detailed in our guidance, National Leagues participants and all coaches must be registered with BAFA in the GoMembership system before returning to activity.
  • Our Stage 5 guidance for contact teams is designed to allow coaching staff some flexibility to use their own judgement at the speed at which teams move through each step – but completing Stage 5d requirements does not mean teams can immediately return to full contact practice. This will not be permitted by BAFA until Stage 6 which is currently planned from 24 May onwards. Teams should continue to work to Stage 5d guidelines until then.

Scotland and Wales
As lockdown easing continues to move at a different pace in Scotland and Wales, we will share more detailed updates for these nations in line with dates when activity can resume there. You can expect guidance to be roughly in line with what we’ve shared today for England, but we may have to make some adjustments to take different rules into account – particularly around caps on participant numbers.

We had hoped to also share updated guidance for under 18s in Wales today but are still waiting on further clarity on participant numbers from the Welsh Government and Sport Wales. We hope to share this updated guidance in the coming days instead.

University football
University contact American football teams should follow BAFA’s Stage 5 guidance, but they should also ensure they work with their Sports or Athletic Union to meet any institution specific return to play and risk assessment requirements. In addition, university clubs must also ensure that institution-specific regulations are followed in respect to registering playing membership ahead of facilitating physical activity. Please note, the £20 player affiliation fee has been waived for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year, but coaches must be registered on BAFA’s GoMembership system as usual ahead of activity resuming.

Next steps
I’m sure once you’ve read and digested our new guidance you may have questions. Over the coming days we will share an updated FAQ to try and tackle the common queries, but in the meantime, you can also reach out as detailed below for any specific queries.

We will also continue to work with clubs on the format of the National Leagues season for 2021 and we will share our plans with you as soon as possible.

In the meantime, and mostly importantly, I hope our members returning to activity in England enjoy getting back to participating in the sport we all love!


More information and support

For additional information, please visit

If you have any questions, please contact: – for general Return to Play, Covid-19 safety and other off-field activity related questions – for coaching queries – for questions relating to BAFA team or individual membership – for queries relating to mixed or women’s adult flag football – for queries relating to U11,U14 or U17 flag football – for queries relating to adult contact football – for queries relating to women’s adult contact football – for queries relating to university football – for questions relating to U16/19 contact football