Vale keen to make better and safer start

As restrictions begin to be lifted for football clubs across the country, Vale of Leithen are preparing for the start of the new football season – and hoping for a better campaign after being anchored to the foot of the Lowland League table during the shortened 2019-20 term.
Vale of LeithenVale of Leithen
Vale of Leithen

Lowland League officials are also cautiously optimistic about the 2020-21 campaign starting in October.

The Scottish Premiership will begin on August 1, with the Scottish Championship, League One and League Two aiming for an October 17 start.

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A definitive start date, however, has still to be established for next season’s Lowland League, which will feature Gala Fairydean Rovers and Berwick Rangers, alongside the Innerleithen club.

Lowland League chairman George Fraser said he was “looking at various scenarios” regarding a potential start date for the new league season to begin.

The league is continuing to examine how and when it will be able to comply with the Covid-19 public health guidance and adhere to the testing protocols.

Fraser added: “The protocols are quite onerous, quite lengthy, so there is a lot for us and our clubs to consider. But we are hoping they might be eased slightly.”

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After confirmation of the Scottish Government’s movement to Phase 3 of the easing of lockdown rules, the Scottish FA has approved a plan to partially lift training restrictions.

Clubs can now start small group, socially distanced, outdoor training.

It’s hoped full contact training will begin later in August, followed by games behind closed doors.

Planning is under way for the league to start in October and it is hoped spectators will be allowed into grounds, albeit under limited capacity to ensure social distancing.

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League representatives – including Vale of Leithen’s vice-chairman, John Anderson – have been working behind the scenes to prepare clubs for the restart.

Mr Anderson has been working on the Lowland League Restart Group and the Joint 4 Leagues Restart Group, covering the Lowland, East, South and West leagues.

He told the club website: “It is not just a case of the SFA and Scottish Government giving the green light to restart.

“A lot of work has been going to on to ensure training and matchday protocols will be in place to ensure the safety of all players, coaches and, hopefully, spectators.

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“This will include additional measures being put in place at Victoria Park to ensure social distancing and hygiene compliance.

“We all want football to restart but we must ensure it is done in a manner that ensures everyone involved is safe.”

The club has also made a handful of new signings, while some players have joined up again and others have left.

Michael Robertson, Calum Oneil and Ryan Higgins have signed up for next season, having all been “committed members of last year’s squad”.

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The club also hoped to announce further additions, following the acqusition of Jonny Grotlin, Martin Brogan and Donovan Ndiweni.

Paul Thomson, Liall Smith, and Liam Ireland have left the club.

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