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Coronavirus sees March and Wisbech St Mary games off for three weeks - but Wisbech and local leagues continuing for now

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All games in the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League – where March and Wisbech St Mary play – have been called off this weekend and for the next three weeks because of coronavirus.

However, fixtures in the BetVictor Northern Premier League in which Wisbech play, and the Cambridgeshire County League and Peterborough Leagues, will go ahead. Wisbech entertain Market Drayton in a crucial relegation battle game tomorrow.

Outwell Swifts' Creake Charity Shield Cup Final against Hemingfords United Reserves in Newmarket will also go ahead this evening (Friday).

Outwell Swifts' cup final will go ahead tonight.
Outwell Swifts' cup final will go ahead tonight.

In a statement, Thurlow Nunn League secretary Nigel Spurling said: "We have today been contacted by clubs that have players and personnel who are self-isolating and one case of a confirmed virus.

"We have therefore decided to postpone all matches with immediate effect.The situation will be reviewed on Monday, March 30 but even if the decision was then taken to restart, no games would be played in any of our competitions until at least Saturday, April 3.

"This decision has been taken with the best interests of players, match officials and club personnel to the forefront and I hope that everyone can understand that this both reduces risk and brings some certainty to the situation."

Wisbech's game against Market Drayton will go ahead tomorrow. (31506658)
Wisbech's game against Market Drayton will go ahead tomorrow. (31506658)

A statement from the Northern Premier League reads: "The NPL board has decided that all games will go ahead this weekend. The FA has today stated that it is each League’s decision as to what approach it wishes to take. Accordingly, the NPL’s board has decided that all matches will go ahead this weekend, with future fixtures being reviewed on Monday.

"Our primary concern, as always, is to protect the financial stability of our 62 clubs. This means playing as many games as we can, so long as clubs wish to do so. This is not contrary to the League’s and clubs’ duty of care considerations to players, officials or supporters but, in a season where clubs have been severely impacted by weather-related postponements, the NPL board believes that pausing the season right now would prove disastrous for many clubs.

"The situation is changing daily, so our approach to Covid-19 must be flexible, recognising the very genuine concerns around the health of players, officials and supporters.

"The NPL has consistently urged clubs to follow government advice, which is that football matches should go ahead as planned for now. Having carefully weighed up all options, and mindful that we are between a rock and a hard place on this issue, all NPL matches will therefore go ahead as planned this weekend unless a club is directly affected by players, referees or volunteers who are self-isolating or have serious concerns. Clubs have been issued with further guidance and instruction.

Peterborough League games are going ahead this weekend. (31506761)
Peterborough League games are going ahead this weekend. (31506761)

"The NPL acknowledges this is not a decision that will meet with universal approval. Although our current stance may have to be reviewed as events escalate, it will be business as usual for as long as possible."

A Peterborough League statement reads: "The advice from the FA at the moment is that grassroots fixtures do not need to be cancelled. However, matches can be postponed by teams who do not wish to play due to concerns about the coronavirus or where players are self-isolating."

And the Cambridgeshire County League say: "There has been no indication from Public Health England that grassroots team sports should be cancelled. The advice from The FA at this current time is that grassroots fixtures do not need to be cancelled as a matter of course and that any decision to continue playing or to postpone their respective competitions is a matter for each league as autonomous bodies within the game.

"At this current time all Cambridgeshire FA affiliated leagues have agreed to continue with fixtures, including the Cambridgeshire County League and the Creake Charity Shield Cup final this evening."

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