THE Trowbridge and District Football League has been working hard behind the scenes to prepare for a return to grassroots football action at the start of October.

Thankfully, this week’s new government guidelines on social distancing will not stop that, as clubs are already telling spectators they must stand in groups of six of less. But clubs will need to make sure strict test and trace measures are implemented.

The league has been working to help each club complete a Covid -19 risk assessment, including help with funding, providing each club with equipment and anything else they may need.

Every club in the league now has a non-playing Covid officer, who is responsible for ensuring that safety measures are followed come match days so fans can return to watch their local teams play at Trowbridge and District level.

Larger venues have had to cut their capacity, which is not an issue for most local sides, and supporters must comply with all Covid guidelines.

Sam Gooding, chairman of the Trowbridge and District Football League, said: “Local clubs won’t survive without fans, that’s the biggest issue, it keeps the club alive.

“This is more than enough to fulfil who would come and watch at that level.

“They do have to have track and trace and when they’re here they aren’t allowed to be in groups of more than six. Hence why the capacity is limited.”

Mr Gooding said that the return to the pitch has provided ‘a positive social outlook’ for the mental health of the players.

He added that to clubs need to be insured against any potential Covid outbreaks.

Come match day goal posts need to be cleaned down at half time and the ball must be handled as little as possible. Players and refs must turn up ready to play, with no on-site changing.

Balls must also be sanitised and should the ball go out of play then another should be used while the other is re-sanitised.

“The work put in by the volunteers is phenomenal,” added Mr Gooding.

While there is a lot of positivity surrounding the return to the pitch, it is still tough going on the financial front, as many clubs will not be opening their refreshment stands.

“That’s another loss of income for clubs at a local level. Those that can will have bars open because they rely on that income, but they will be reduced,” said Mr Gooding.

“The restrictions still put a lot of pressure on local football and the more people that can come and support their local club the better. It will help make sure that the club survives.”

Play in the Trowbridge and District League this year will continue to be sponsored by local firm Trowbridge Windows and Conservatories.

The committee said: ““The committee would also like to take this opportunity to thank local companies A M Print & Copy, Chantry Digital Ltd and Gooding Accounts Ltd for their ongoing sponsorship of our cup competitions.

“These companies have been associated with the league for many years and the committee are very thankful for their continued support, which is vital in making sure that local football is provided for everyone on a Saturday afternoon.”

The League are hoping to open the playing season on Saturday, October 3 and this year 21 teams, which include newcomers Bromham and Potterne, will play across two divisions.