GMCL decision to continue with games
At a Board meeting last night we agreed that our scheduled fixtures can go ahead where clubs wish but the whole league will remain under constant daily review as you would expect.
This isn’t a clear issue for any of us and opinions are completely divided across the whole league, with players, club management and officials offering us so many varied and opposite views.
We have contacted clubs that play in the GMCL who are located within the Bolton Borough to seek their views on the current position and not surprisingly there are also a range of views and we balance those with the formal advice from the Council and the ECB that cricket can be legally played under the governing body guidance and the local restrictions applied in the borough.
We are obviously concerned at the continually rising numbers and have this under continual review, and so we will, where guidance is changed and where we are told that cricket is no longer safe or where we are told that cricket is adding to those numbers in any way, immediately withdraw the fixtures for all the relevant clubs. We do not know if there is a measurable “tipping point” on this that can be shown as a number.
This is the position for the clubs within Bolton borough who play in GMCL.
- Our Sunday teams whose home league is the Bolton League will not be continuing with their GMCL matches so that is Astley Bridge, Darcy Lever, Heaton and Westhoughton.
- Walkden, although in Salford borough, have also decided not to continue.
- Golborne, from Wigan borough, will continue with their Sunday GMCL schedule.
- Our Saturday teams within Bolton borough have been asked if they can continue to host games under the new regulations and tighter restrictions for the borough and the responses are as follows.
- Egerton CC have decided they cannot host games because of the numbers who normally attend which will be difficult to manage with available volunteers so all home games are cancelled, they will play their away games whilst travel is allowed.
- Bradshaw CC have confirmed that they are ending the season now
- Daisy Hill, Deane & Derby and Bolton Indians SC will continue with fixtures as scheduled.
- We would like to thank the clubs for taking the decision process back to their clubs where we know there have had to be difficult conversations.
Any clubs playing against any of the Bolton borough teams can withdraw from the game if you do not wish to travel or do not wish to host. Please send notification before the day of the game to GtrMcrCricket@mail.com
In addition, any club which feels it would like to withdraw from either Saturday or Sunday competitions may do so without penalty by contacting the same e-mail address.
So why have we not cancelled fixtures for all clubs based in the borough?
As well as the authorities quite clearly stating that games can be played, they have also specifically stated that players can travel outside the borough to play organised sport. We cannot stop games in the borough but then allow players living in the borough to travel outside, that would be pointless and achieve nothing. We do not have the ability or authority to track or stop players playing outside the borough and even if we stopped games in the borough and the travelling, we have no way of policing it.
We have been challenged that we must stop games for safety of all involved but is that so? What would the players be doing with no centrally organised games? There would be risk of players meeting up in a less restrictive way or heading out to pubs and clubs outside the borough boundary and doing exactly what the authorities don’t want them to do. There is also the risk that clubs will organise their own in-house games or friendlies; the legislation as it stands does not prevent this in or outside of Bolton, we think it better to have some level of central organisation and an oversight of games being played and therefore we are retaining our fixtures.
There are so many other considerations such as keeping people active and supporting participant’s mental health that are built in to national decisions for supporting the playing of sport that on balance, we have agreed that clubs may continue to play games where they choose to.
The whole region
The restrictions in all areas still allow for all organised cricket to be played and this has been the same now in Oldham and Bolton where the numbers have been at their highest in our region and organised cricket has also continued in other places with high numbers such as Lancashire, Birmingham and Leicester.
To date we have had no spread of the virus within our league; every positive test looks to have come from outside clubs such as workplaces, family or holidays and we know there has been no onward transmission through clubs or through playing the many games so far.
We know there will be more positive tests for people in our league before the season ends but we have all responded very well so far and clubs have supported our strong action. If we are able to maintain this so that we have no spread through to the end then through the combination of the procedures we have put in place and individual and club adherence to the adaptive regulations, we will have done our bit.
We do not consider we have the authority to tell clubs outside of Bolton to close when they are carrying out legal activity, to do so would go against the advice of the experts and potentially lose income streams that the clubs were so desperate for to stay afloat.
This remains a difficult situation for us all to deal with and manage at league, club and individual level. Everyone has an opinion, should we play or not; our role is to take on board as much as we can for all our participants to come up with the balanced position.
Our decision may be overridden 20 minutes after we publish by a new piece of legislation and so we adapt at that time should it happen, we do not know if we will reach the end of our scheduled fixtures.
This is where we can have more influence.
These rules require every player to maintain distance during the game and it is their responsibility to ensure they follow the rules and stay safe and keep their team-mates and opponents safe. All club officials must continue to keep the ground and clubhouse safe for all participants and visitors.
If this does not happen we will continue to issue penalty notices. We remind you that penalties can be carried over to next season.
11 September 2020