I hope The FA do the right thing and see that a little club like ours is taking the right precautions in protecting everyone on behalf of the club and their families when they go home to them, says Hollands & Blair boss Simon Halsey

Sunday 13th September 2020

SIMON HALSEY claims hosts Burgess Hill Town couldn’t guarantee the safety of everyone from Hollands & Blair so decided not to travel to play yesterday’s FA Cup Preliminary Round tie at Leylands Park.

Burgess Hill Town issued a statement at 19:59 on Friday night revealing some of their players tested positive for Covid-19 and were in isolation.

Gillingham-based Hollands & Blair issued a statement just before 12 o’clock yesterday insisting that they were not going to travel.

“My thoughts on the matter, we as a club done exactly the right thing, 100% done the right thing,” said Hollands & Blair manager Halsey.

“There was no way they could guarantee that game could have gone on safely after their emails and tweets saying that players not only had symptoms but were proved that they had positive testing that they had Covid-19, so deep cleaning the ground and cleaning the handrails doesn’t ensure the safety of me, my players, my staff, supporters and going home to their families and perhaps taking it back to them.

“If they’re (The FA) are saying games cannot be replayed in The FA Cup at the moment, well, this is not a replay, it’s just re-arranging a fixture.

“If they (Burgess Hill Town) can get the isolation done, those players that have tested positive in time before the next round, I’ll go down there on a Friday night before the next round and play them.

“It’s about playing a game of football in a safe environment and with the way the world is at the moment, that couldn’t have happened yesterday.

“There is no way they could guarantee our safety,” claimed the manager.

The tie has been awarded to Burgess Hill Town as The Football Association confirmed that “Hollands & Blair failed to fulfil fixture.”

The Draw for the First Qualifying Round is expected to take place tomorrow with the next round taking place on Monday 21 September, Tuesday 22 September or Wednesday 23 September.

“That’s just in the hands of the club now so I can’t really comment on that.  Obviously, there’s going to be backwards and forwards stuff between The FA and everyone over the next few days so we just have to see how it goes,” said Halsey.

“It’s not a case of us not wanting to play. I’ll play them – if they can guarantee the isolation is clear for 14 days, whenever the boy went into isolation.

“We’ll go down there and play them in midweek, Friday or Sunday, whenever he’s clear.  If we can get it in before the next round.

“It’s not a replay, we’re not asking for a replay. We’re asking for a re-arranged fixture in a safe environment.”

Halsey added: “I hope The FA do the right thing and see that a little club like ours is taking the right precautions in protecting everyone on behalf of the club and their families when they go home to them.

“If they don’t re-arrange the fixture, I don’t want a bye, it’s not about us having a bye.  The FA have to re-arrange that fixture and get it in before the next round, that’s all we’re asking, in a safe environment.

“I don’t want the bye and not play the game and get the winners money.

“We want to play a game of football but in a safe environment and that’s what The FA must do.

“They cannot throw Burgess Hill out and they cannot throw us out, the game has to be played.”

Halsey takes his side to Faversham to play Canterbury City in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division on Wednesday night.

After beating Colliers Wood United 1-0 in The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round on Wednesday 2 September, courtesy of Matthew Gething’s first-half header, they opened their league campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Balham, but bounced back by beating Crowborough Athletic 2-0 at Darland Avenue.

Canterbury City exited The FA Cup at the first hurdle by losing 3-2 at Guildford City and have began their league campaign with defeats to Welling Town (2-1) and Sheppey United (4-1).

Hollands & Blair are currently in tenth-place in the table at this early stage, while hosts Canterbury City are second from bottom in the table, without any points with only Tower Hamlets below them in the pecking order.

“My thoughts on that, we’re going to go down there on Wednesday obviously knowing that at the moment we’re not carrying any Covid-19,” said Halsey.

“If we had gone to Burgess Hill yesterday, again that could have put Wednesday’s game in jeopardy and could have put next Saturday’s FA Vase game at Horley Town in jeopardy.  It’s just a long, knock-on effect if we gone down there yesterday.

“We’ll be going to go down there fully fit and ready to put some more points on the board, hopefully, against a Canterbury side that have done well in their opening games.”

Visit Hollands & Blair’s website: www.hollandsandblair.co.uk

Canterbury City  v  Hollands & Blair
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 16 September 2020
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Salters Lane, Faversham, Kent ME13 8ND