Cork Youth Leagues have announced plans which will allow the 2020-21 season to be completed.
The leagues, like other non-elite sports, have been paused since the beginning of last October, with clubs across U17, U18 and U19 levels having played between two and six games. Now, with games possible from June 7 onwards, it is hoped that a compacted programme can be played off, allowing league finals to take place on July 1.
“In line with the recent FAI return to play protocol which allows matches to return from June 7, the Cork Youth League would like to inform you that it is our intention to complete the current season throughout the month of June,” a statement read.
“The objective of the Cork Youth League has always been to ensure the young players have access to football regardless of ability or level and we believe this new format ensures all those who wish to return to play, can.”
Each section will be split up into two groups, based on league positions, with the group winners playing the runners-up from the opposite group in semi-finals.
Teams are not compelled to take part and there is an opt-out available, without penalty, though for those taking part, current squads must be used – no transfers or registration of new players will be permitted.
Weekend kick-off times will be later than usual to avoid clashing with schoolboys’ league fixtures, while midweek games will be avoided due to the Leaving Certificate. Games at U18 level will generally take place at 4pm on Saturdays, with U17 and U19 and 4pm on Sundays.
It is aimed to completed league competitions by July 5 to allow the 2021-22 season to commence in August. In addition, the CYL also hopes to complete local cup competitions which have already started and are near conclusion. Munster and national youths cups will not be completed.
The league is asking clubs for the utmost diligence to allow the programme to be completed.
“As stated, this will only be possible if clubs ensure that player safety is paramount,” the statement said.
“This means no crowds at games, no dressing rooms to be used and strict adherence to the FAI return-to-play protocol.
“All clubs are asked to confirm if they will be returning to play or opting out of this format. “Clubs are under no obligation to play but all clubs are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org on or before Friday, May 14, stating their preference for each age group the club have within the Cork Youth Leagues.”