Coronavirus has taken a sledgehammer to our summer routine, says Maidstone United chief executive Bill Williams

Saturday 01st August 2020

MAIDSTONE UNITED chief executive Bill Williams says the coronavirus health pandemic has taken a sledgehammer into the club’s preparations for the new campaign.

The 2019-20 Vanarama National League South campaign started on Saturday 3 August 2019 and was completed this afternoon when Weymouth beat Dartford 3-0 on penalties in the Behind Closed Doors Promotion Final after the game finished goal-less after 90 minutes.

Next season is now expected to kick-off in early October due to the coronavirus health pandemic which has delayed clubs preparations for the new campaign.

“I’ve done over 60 seasons in football and after racking my brain I cannot remember one that didn’t start in August,” Williams told the Stones’ website.

“My way of life has been conditioned to a season running from July to early May.  With a bit of luck, I’d get some timeout before coming back to the office in June to head-up or assist with player recruitment and preparations for the following season.

“Coronavirus has taken a sledgehammer to that routine. Last season ended in mid-March and this coming season is scheduled to start in October.

“The National League’s board of directors are targeting Saturday 3 October with a full fixture calendar.  This would see the season run until the last weekend of May and play-offs would take place in June.

“This plan is not only subject to FA approval but the continued uncertainty that coronavirus is still having on all our lives.

“If that start date is achieved, teams at our level will kick-off with an FA Cup fixture – another first for me.  What a baptism of fire that will be after a break of six and a half months!

“While not set in stone, it is good to have a date to work towards.  We can ramp up recruitment, plan pre-season training and book in some friendlies.

“There is still a lot of uncertainty about the number of spectators and we’ve been advised that ground capacities will be significantly reduced from normal levels.

“Each ground will be assessed for a social distanced capacity, which will vary according to the design, layout and configuration of each ground.

“Until that is completed, we won’t be in a position to finalise season ticket or match-day ticketing arrangements.  Please bare with us in the meantime. I want to get you all back here as soon as possible and as safely as possible.”

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