Open Letter to the Football Community in NNSW

March 26th, 2020

First and foremost, I wanted to let you know our priority continues to be the health and safety of our players, coaches, match officials, volunteers, staff, spectators and supporters of football across our region as we navigate the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

I strongly encourage you to stay across best practice for keeping yourself and the rest of the community safe. The NSW Department of Health has a section of its website dedicated to keeping people informed. You can access it here.

As for football, I can assure you it is business as usual here at Northern NSW Football. We’re all working remotely to do our bit to reduce the spread of the virus, however our systems are working very well and I encourage you to engage with our staff by email and phone.

We wholeheartedly support Football Federation Australia’s decision to suspend football nationally to help reduce public gatherings and contribute to the nation’s effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. The decision to suspend football due to the coronavirus has been well received by clubs and reflected sentiment from the general public.

But our message is clear. Season 2020 is not cancelled – it has only been postponed. And we look forward to being back on the pitch as soon as it is safe to do so.

This is the 136th season of football in northern NSW. The game has endured the Great Depression of the 1930s as well as two world wars. Football has survived and played on. We are confident we will get back on the pitch when the time is right.

Over 50,000 participants have already registered for this season. NNSWF is working tirelessly with our Member Zones and the clubs competing in the Premier Competitions to establish guiding principles and scenarios so we’re as ready as we can be to play when it’s safe to do so.

Some people have asked about refunds of registration fees. People are asking from several different perspectives. The two main ones are (1) “If the season doesn’t proceed, how do I get a refund?” and or (2) “I am in or expect to be in financial hardship and would like to get a refund. How do I do this? There are other scenarios but these are the key ones.

Before answering these two questions, there are a few points to make:

First, the season isn’t cancelled. We’re hopeful and working very hard to get back on the pitch as soon as we can. This season will be different, but we’re committed to maximising participation. Nothing’s off the table, we’re considering mid-week games, finishing later and no finals.

Second, your registration fee includes four main components – fees are paid to your club, the local competition administrator (Zone), the ‘state body’ (in this case Northern NSW Football), and the FFA.

All of the organisations have incurred some expenditure already this year getting ready for the season, although a ball hasn’t been kicked in most community competitions. All organisations are working tirelessly to ensure that we’re ready to play when it’s safe. These costs have to be considered and recouped.

So, at this time, we ask you to be patient. Let’s wait and see if we can get on the pitch, once we get the go ahead. If that situation doesn’t arise, then yes, we will be in touch to let you know about refunds. We’re a long way away from that at present.

Between now and then, if you are in financial hardship, please let your club know. We understand. Your club is the first place to go if you are seeking a refund now because of financial hardship, however please keep in mind that your club does not have the authority to refund the Governing Body Fees. This will be addressed by the respective governing bodies in due course.

That’s the picture on refunds as it stands at the end of March. If you have any inquiries about this matter, please contact your club. They’re getting regular updates on preparations for the season and contingency planning.

We hope this answers your questions. Things are changing quickly and as things change, we will keep you and your clubs up to date.
In the meantime, I encourage you to stay fit and healthy in preparation for the new season. Most importantly, look after yourself and your loved ones.

We look forward to seeing you out on a pitch with a ball at your feet soon.

Yours in football,

David Eland
Northern NSW Football


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