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Latest message from Pete Ackerley

BAFA rules adjustments for Covid-19, England moves to the final stage of our Covid-19 roadmap for flag and contact football plus updates for Scotland and Wales

As you will all be aware, many Covid-19 rules changes came into effect across the UK yesterday. These changes mean we can make further careful progress on our Return to Play journey. Below is an overview of what this means for our clubs and participants in England, Scotland and Wales.

BAFA rules adjustments for Covid-19
BAFA and BAFRA have also been collaborating closely to produce temporary Covid-19 amendments to playing rules for this season for both flag and contact football. This includes guidelines for officials.

I would like to thank Dr Jim Briggs, Chair of the BAFA Rules Committee, and David Parsons, President of BAFRA, for their time and high level of engagement and support in making sure we protect both our members and the integrity of the game.  You can find the rules adjustments here and on our Covid-19 hub. Jim has also created a really useful short video summarising the changes and the reasoning behind them.

As detailed in our Return to Play roadmap for England, flag football can now move to the final stage of activity. This allows for a return to league competition later this month, as well as full-roster practices.

Contact clubs were due to move to the final stage of our roadmap from next week on Monday 24 May. However, after careful consideration, we have decided to bring this step forward by one week for contact football. This means teams who have completed all four steps of our modified contact guidance are now permitted to move to full contact practice, with no on-field activity or time restrictions.

This is based on feedback from clubs who have successfully worked their way through all four steps of modified contact. We have also been pleased with the encouraging level of engagement and caution we have seen from many clubs who have been working through our guidelines so far.

We ask teams who are still working through our four steps of modified contact to continue and complete this before moving back to full contact practice.

I want to be absolutely clear that this does not mean a return to ‘normal’ for either our flag or contact formats. Our Covid-19 guidelines and precautions MUST be closely followed at all times to protect the safety and wellbeing of our members and our communities and make sure we’re able to continue playing the sport we love during this uncertain time.

Our current status is hard-won and fragile, and we are trusting our clubs and members to not undertake any activity that may put that in jeopardy.

New Covid-19 guidance documents for flag football and contact football in England are now available reflecting this move forward, and again include an amendments table to make it easy for you to identify key changes – which include:

  • American football activity can now take place indoors provided clubs adhere to the capacity limits advised by their facility providers
  • Spectators are now permitted for events, including practice sessions and games, but social gathering limits must be adhered to. Clubs should consider how best to ensure spectators are managed to avoid groups congregating and breaking social gathering limits and work closely with their facility’s management team to understand any additional guidelines for spectators that may be in place
  • Car sharing is now permitted for the purposes of participation in sport and physical activity but UK Government guidelines on travel safety must be followed

Guidance for game / tournament management has been included with the updated guidelines for flag football and must be closely adhered to in conjunction with any additional guidance from competition management. This covers pre- game planning, officiating guidelines and rules adjustments.

Similar game management guidance for contact football will be issued ahead of competition resuming next month, including a game management checklist. Officiating guidelines and rules adjustments are available already.

We are also moving away from different numbered steps and ‘stages’ of guidance – which you’ve told us is confusing. We will now simply have Covid-19 guidance for flag and contact formats in England. This will continue to be regularly updated as government restrictions are relaxed or tightened. Guidance for other nations will move towards the same model.

The majority of mainland Scotland moved to protection Level 2 yesterday – which allows for the return of undistanced team sports for adults.  Updated guidance reflecting these changes is now with sportscotland for their approval. We hope to be able to share this over the coming days.

Unfortunately, Glasgow City and Moray council areas are remaining in Level 3 for at least the rest of this week, due to a spike in cases of Covid-19. This means a delay to the return of undistanced adult activity in these locations, as well as travel restrictions on our members.  Undistanced activity for under 18s may continue, and they may also travel into and out of Level 3 and Level 2 areas to participate.

We are monitoring the situation closely and have created a Q&A to support you. You should also review our Protection Levels Activity Checker which has been updated. Please also reach out to our mailbox for more support or advice if needed.

With effect from yesterday, up to 30 people can now take part in organised indoor activities and up to 50 people in organised outdoor activities. Some other minor updates have also been made to our guidance, including updated guidance on participating in and hosting friendly flag tournaments.

Updated Stage 4 guidance for flag and Stage 5 guidance for modified contact in Wales is now available. For now, teams in Wales must continue to follow this guidance until advised otherwise, but we hope to move closer to competition soon.

Stay safe.


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