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BAFA update on COVID-19 – 9 April

Thursday, April 9, 2020

BAFA Chief Executive Pete Ackerley on latest position with American football suspension

I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe, and I think I speak for our whole community when I say we salute the heroic efforts of those on the front lines of our health care system and our supply chain.

Within British American football, we are striving to meet the current challenges we face with both pragmatism and optimism.

I continue to be in daily conversations with the BAFA board on our response to the current situation, and we view our approach as having three phases – protect, prepare and play. I will now give you an update on where we stand with each phase.

Protect
It is imperative that we protect everyone involved in our sport, and safety and wellbeing will continue to be our number one priority. That is why I urge everyone to closely follow the advice and guidance from public health officials and the Government in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19.

To ensure the protection of BAFA members, I can confirm the current suspension of all American football related activity will continue until at least the end of May. We will keep this suspension under constant review as the situation evolves and guidance from the Government is updated.

Of course, we must also protect the integrity of our sport and our financial stability, and we are working hard to plan for when our great game can resume – which leads onto the prepare phase.

Prepare
While American football related activity is suspended, we want to use this time to consult with teams on the best way to return to playing action.

As it stands, we are looking at a potential start date for the season in mid-July, although this is very much subject to government advice allowing for this – and feedback from the consultation process. All commission leads and/or relevant officials within clubs will be contacted in the coming days for their views on our proposals.

We know that starting a season in mid or late summer presents challenges, but I hope that members can understand we are responding to the hand we have been dealt, and we are doing our utmost to find the best possible solution in the circumstances.

Play
While we plan for the start of our season, BAFA as an organisation very much continues to operate at full capacity. We are absolutely committed to playing a format of a season, or as close as we can come to one, and we are working with our clubs, BAFCA, BAFRA and all our volunteer workforce to prepare for this.

On this basis, we do not anticipate making any changes to our membership structure given we are planning for American football to take place this season. We will though continue to keep the situation regarding membership under review.

We will aim to give clubs and players as much notice as we can once a final decision is made on the season commencing. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to stay as ready for playing action as they possibly can within the obvious limitations – whether that be training at home, keeping in contact with teammates virtually, studying or continuous professional development.

I mentioned in my last update that anyone with relevant skills or experience who could volunteer within BAFA at the current time should get in touch with me, and this very much still stands. It has been fantastic to see the spirit already displayed within our community as we pull together to overcome the challenges we are faced with.

Hopes held high
Understandably there are more important things on all our minds right now than sport or matches of any sort. Yet we also know that British American football has incredible passion and commitment and when the time comes, we can play an important role in the recovery of sport in Great Britain.

Until then, let’s all do what we can to stop the spread of this virus and protect each other. And at the same time, let’s keep our hopes high and positive for American football in 2020.

Pete Ackerley, BAFA Chief Executive

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