Plans for the return of football in the CML

By Richard Lane

The following plans for the resumption of football in the Central Midlands League have been outlined

CMFL plans for the resumption of football within the League are as follows:

Training and playing of grassroots football can start from 29 March. Our plan is to let players and clubs organise training etc for this week, the following weekend (which is Easter) and the following midweek so that Competitive football resumes with its first fixture programme from SATURDAY 10 APRIL. There are 8 Saturdays to end of May + 7 Midweeks, so a total of 15 Matchdays available

The League’s Divisions

Premier North and South Leagues will be abandoned as 19/20. We will leave the records in place as per last season, but no Champions will be declared. This is the only practical solution as clubs did not wish to play into June. Instead, a “World Cup / Champions League style” competitive tournament will be organised, and details of this appear below.

Division One is different. Because the Leagues are smaller, we shall play these Leagues to a conclusion. With an offered extension into June, there is no reason why we can’t. We are keen to complete the divisions because we want to offer the Champion club in each division promotion to the Premier Division (subject to ground grading etc). However – we will NOT force clubs to take part in concluding the season if they decide against it. Should any club decide not to play on, their record will be expunged from the division but at this stage, it will not be treated as a resignation. Instead, the club goes into “hibernation” until the pre-season for 21/22. Should any clubs withdraw after the re-commencement of fixtures then normal rules and discipline measures will apply. Should for any reason the Leagues not be completed, the League reserve the option of declaring positions on a PPG basis if required.


We have heard many concerns from clubs that they do not wish to play matches without any sources of income and that is totally understandable. Here at Step 7 / Feeder League level we may have an advantage. It is clear that spectators are not allowed at Step 6 and above until mid-late May, but it is entirely possible that spectators MAY be allowed at Step 7 and below. We are awaiting the FA guidelines and this will follow after the DCMS make their own decisions. Let’s be optimistic and look at the best chance of meaningful, competitive football from mid-April to the end of the season. Doing that means we plan for a best-case scenario, and if at a later point decisions are made that put restrictions in place to scupper spectator attendance then we’ll have to abandon the idea – but at least we’ll have tried. We have to plan now, and if it turns out that all fixture planning was a waste of time and everything is abandoned, then so be it – it’s only Chris’ time that’s been wasted, and he accepts that as a risk.

The Chairman’s Cup Format for the Premier Division Clubs

This is subject to the number of clubs taking part. Ideally, we would want all 31, and a word about that first. Our clubs asked us for football, but made it clear that they didn’t want to play to the end of June. That made completing the Leagues impossible. Instead, the clubs wanted a tournament, so that’s what has been organised, under our own sanctioning approved by our County FA, so why would clubs NOT want to play in it? Having said that, we’re not going to make it compulsory, but would encourage clubs to take part.

How the competition will be organised will depend on the number of clubs who want to take part. It will start with a group stage – if all 31 take part, then we’ll split it into six groups, five of five teams and one of six. If say we had 28 entrants, we may then look at seven groups of four. It will all come down to who wants to play football.

Groups will be arranged geographically to cut down on mileage and to offer attractive local derbies where possible, with teams playing each other home and away within the group. Should all 31 teams enter, there would be 8 matches, 10 in the 6-team group. Group winners, runners-up and 3rd team in group of six go through to Round of 16 plus three teams with next-best records as “Wild cards”. If there were 28 teams, seven group winners and runners-up plus two best 3rd placed teams as “wild cards” would go through. After that it would be a Round of 16 (or “Eighth Finals”), Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Final.

For the clubs who don’t make it through the group stage, we will have a “plate” competition; if we had all 31 involved that would be a Round of 16 (with one bye), QFs, SFs, Final. The format though will of course depend on how many teams enter the contest.

This would give all clubs a minimum of 9 matches; be in the group of six and go all the way to the Final it’s a maximum of 14 matches. If we have smaller groups, the number of games goes down to a minimum of 7 games, and a maximum of 10.

First 5 Saturdays and five midweeks for group matches (10 April to 11 May)

Saturday 15 May Round of 16

Midweek 18/19 May QFs

Saturday 22 May SFs

Saturday 29 May Final

Player Qualification

Players must be registered with a club by the usual League 31 March deadline.

There are two special rules for the Premier Division’s Chairman’s Cup tournament:

1. Players cannot play in this competition until 28 days have elapsed since signing (for instance if you sign someone on deadline day, he can’t play in this competition until 28 April). This rule is to try and ease the potential situation of players from Steps 3-6 clubs dual signing with CMFL clubs. We can’t stop it, but it’s up to clubs how they manage their squads for this. Our view is that your players have stuck with you, give them the games they deserve.

2. To assist with playing time, clubs may name FIVE substitutes (as per normal) but can play up to FIVE substitutes during the game.

Finally, would all club Secretaries please check that your player insurance runs until the end of the season relevant to your club.

All clubs are entered in the relevant competitions and divisions – they have until 18.00 on FRIDAY 19 MARCH to indicate if they wish to withdraw.

Where next?

League Statement A statement regarding the restart of football

Central Midlands Football League newsletter

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