Halsey explains FA Cup stance
Halsey explains FA Cup stance

On FA Cup Preliminary Round weekend, football and COVID19 have sadly collided and SCEFL side Hollands & Blair have become involved in one of the stories of the round, without even kicking a ball in anger!

The SCEFL club’s Cup tie at Isthmian League Burgess Hill Town was sadly called off on Saturday lunchtime because two of the Sussex clubs players had tested positive for COVID-19 and despite assurances from the home club, Simon Halsey’s side decided not to travel after the clubs committee met in an emergency session on Friday night.

Speaking to KSN, Halsey explained: “It wasn’t the day I expected, or the evening I expected after the Tweet came out from Burgess Hill Friday night that said that players had and not a player tested positive for COVID.”

He went on, “The committee got together, myself, the Chairman, the co-Chairman and everyone else and we had a long chat about the situation and we couldn’t do anything about it until the morning, but we took it upon ourselves to not travel today.

“Whether we can play the game on another night, I don’t think that we can obviously because it’s the FA Cup, we’d be more than willing to do that but we had to take the stand today that no matter what they tweeted saying that they can make the place safe for us to go, with the players testing positive that was just something that we couldn’t do.

“The club has a duty of care to myself, my players, my staff, the committee, supporters not to put ourselves in that situation.”

The Blair boss went on, “The reality of it and the chances of us going down there and contracting the virus may be minimal, but we couldn’t do that and go down there and play for not a lot of money and if one of them caught it and brought it home to their families.

“My son-in-law plays for me and my daughters pregnant, so he wouldn’t have played in the game. Lewis Mingle wouldn’t have either as he’s in the same situation, we’ve got two other players whose parents are vulnerable and there is no way on this earth that we could risk them going to Burgess Hill and perhaps contracting it and bringing it back home and that’s the reality of it!”

So, what next? Halsey said, “We’ve got no idea what the FA are going to do about the tie. If you look at some of the other clubs that are down their way, I think that there are two or three other clubs have had players who have contracted  it over the week and they pulled themselves out of the competition. Its going to be in the hands of the FA and we’ll have to wait and see the outcome of it.”

“At the end of it, if we don’t go through to the next round and my players are all healthy, then its really not a problem.

“I asked the club if we need the money, do we need to go down there and play the game and win it for the money and everyone was united that our players welfare comes first and I hold my hat up to them for that stance!”