Credit: Notts County Football Club

By Michael Callander

Several Nottinghamshire clubs are continuing fixtures throughout the current national lockdown.

Despite the current COVID-19 restrictions, the county’s biggest football clubs are still playing first-team football, with Nottingham Forest, Mansfield Town and Notts County all remaining in league action at time of writing.

Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club are earmarked for a return to action in April, while on 1 February, Nottingham Rugby Club announced their participation in a shortened Greene King IPA Championship, which will start on the weekend of 6/7 March.

It was a little surprising to me to see that, along with the first-team, some clubs’ youth outfits continue to fulfil fixtures. This raises the obvious questions around whether clubs are testing their young players and youth staff with the same regularity.

Ben Stanley, Men’s Head Coach at Nottingham Hoods Basketball Club, told CBJTarget,

“We are currently restricted from training in any capacity during lockdown. Only clubs and organisations that are considered to have Elite status are currently able to train, and this prohibits many junior programs across the country from training in any regard, including our own program.

“Our Men’s program is considered to have Elite status and is currently training regularly. We are also conducting lateral flow testing twice a week in accordance with guidance from our governing body.”

Nottingham Forest Under-23s and Under-18s’ Professional Development League seasons are continuing as advertised at present, with the U23s top of the PDL North, and the U18s bottom of their division.

Mansfield Town’s U18s are ninth, second-bottom, of the EFL Youth Alliance North East, having taken one point from their last three.

Notts County’s U18s sit second in the same division, having just drawn 0 – 0 with the Stags.

Notts’ first-team, playing in the Vanarama National League, are continuing their league season amid a difficult testing situation.

A round of testing for a 25-man squad is estimated to cost around £20,000.

With two rounds recommended per week, three days apart, that would mean a weekly outlay of £40,000, which dwarfs National League clubs’ weekly wage budgets, and would quickly bankrupt most clubs in the fifth tier.

Nick Richardson, the Magpies’ Media and Communications Manager, added,

“Our Under-18s players and academy staff are currently being tested through the EFL twice a week.

“Our academy are also working to strict club protocols to help prevent the spread of infection.”