Postponement caused by COVID uncertainty
Postponement caused by COVID uncertainty

COVID19 has reared its’ head in Kent following the late postponement of Tuesday’s derby between Hythe Town and Sittingbourne at Reachfields – one of those missing out on their midweek “fix” was our reporter Mike Green.

On Wednesday morning we asked Mike for his views on what happened whilst we also approached both clubs and the Isthmian League for comment.

The below views are those of Mike and do not represent the “official” view of KSN.

“Following an unnamed Hythe player on Monday receiving a positive result to a test at work – despite showing no symptoms – the rest of the first team squad quite rightly all took tests during the day along with the player’s family.”

“However the problems began when the under fire national Testing system failed to deliver all of the results within the Government parameters and the match referee quite rightly under the current restrictions that we are all under, until the results were received, the players concerned should have been in isolation – such was the recent case with Gillingham defender Chris Maghoma who came into contact with an infected friend and again was correctly subsequently benched by Steve Evans.”

“With no players isolated after the news, the match official was put in a hopeless position and after consultations with the authorities, the game was called off not fifteen minutes before the scheduled start of 7.45pm – just as your intrepid reporter arrived in the Car Park!”

“Now, if you examine the current guidelines, Hythe went beyond what they were required to do as ridiculously they were not required to get the additional tests – it was only because they did and the delay in the testing results – a position that we hear about every day on the national news – that one individual made the decision to call the game off. Referees are paid to officiate football matches not to decide if people’s lives should be put at risk on a football pitch.”

“Perhaps the position should have been publicised to give supporters the option of travelling or not, but the bottom line is that the Authorities (both footballing and government) need to issue firm instructions to clubs with procedures to follow as this is now the second COVID incident to affect Kent football in just a week following the EFL’s stance not to postpone Gillingham’s game with Fleetwood at the weekend despite the Lancashire side’s previous fixture being against Accrington who the day after the fixture announced eleven of their players had positive test results, whilst refusing to “order” the testing of the Fleetwood players before their visit to Kent from what is after all a “tier Three” area.”

“There are no clear set instructions outside the Premier League and that must for all our sakes be looked at as a matter of urgency if football is to continue. We have spoken to managers across the Leagues who are all expecting another Lockdown of our game sooner rather than later, and surely if there are repeats of the events of Tuesday night at Reachfields, they will be right.”

“We need official instruction on how to deal with positions like this – no guidelines that are seemingly made up as and when – we need instructions, and we need them yesterday…”

For the record, the following is part of the statement that Hythe posted on their website on Wednesday morning:

“…only one player had been tested for Covid19 at his workplace and despite having no symptoms whatsoever he received a positive result. On Monday Hythe Town FC contacted last Saturday’s opponents Haywards Heath and our next opponents Sittingbourne FC and put in a call to the league office who quoted the current FA advice which was to carry on playing whilst observing all of the precautions we have all become used to as a nation…”

“As an extra precaution our players took tests all of which so far have been negative, as have the tests taken by the affected player’s family.”

“However the match referee, whilst complimenting the club on taking this stance pointed out that a number of players who had NOT received their results should according to the law of the land, and despite them not having any symptoms, have gone into isolation”.

“Of course, had they not taken this extra step all would have played against Sittingbourne and both the League and the FA would have been perfectly happy. Therefore, it was the players as a group wanting to make certain of things, and with the very best of intentions, that had created a situation that the referee felt powerless to ignore.”