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What UK's National Lockdown Means For FA Cup, EPL

The FA Cup will go ahead as planned this weekend along with the rest of professional sport despite the government's announcement of a new national lockdown on Monday night that has wiped out the amateur sporting calendar. 

All grassroots competitions and outdoor venues such as golf courses, tennis courts and pools have been instructed to close immediately, but top-level sport will be able to continue under the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's elite sporting protocols.

The exemption means that Premier League fixtures and the FA Cup third round matches, which kick-off on Friday night, can go ahead despite the presence of several sides from lower down the football pyramid.

The Argentine midfielder was one of three Spurs players who breached COVID restrictions over Christmas.

Three non-league teams - Marine, Borehamwood and Chorley - remain in the FA Cup, but it is understood their ties can go ahead because the tournament is classed as an elite competition.

Marine host Premier League side Tottenham, Chorley face Derby and Borehamwood play Millwall.

There are concerns over whether divisions below the National Conference North and South can continue following Monday night's announcement, whilst Premier League clubs are also seeking clarification over whether their Academy sides can continue to play and train under the new restrictions, which are far more stringent than the November lockdown.

Meanwhile, the FA have no intentions of punishing players who breach Covid regulations away from football.

A host of high-profile footballers have been accused of flouting Government restrictions in recent days, leading to calls for the players in question to be formally reprimanded by the sport's governing body.

But the jurisdiction for punishment away from the sport does not lie with the FA but rather with the clubs.

An FA disrepute charge could trigger competitive suspensions for players but while officials have taken a particularly dim view of some footballers behaviour in recent days, it is understood the protocols breaches that have emerged do not fall within the organisation's remit.

The new lockdown is in some ways more brutal than last March, as the Government are desperately bidding to keep the mutant coronavirus at bay while vaccines are rolled out. 

The third national lockdown will see primary and secondary schools shut until at least February half-term.

University students are being told to stay at home and study remotely, while exams will not go ahead as planned. Nurseries can stay open.

Non-essential retail, all hospitality, gyms and swimming pools are being ordered to close across the country.

Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve takeaway - but in a tightening from the draconian measures last spring, they will not be allowed to serve any alcohol. Vulnerable people are being told to shield where possible. Communal worship can continue with social distancing in place.

The public will once again only be allowed to leave home for one of five reasons: to go to work if essential, shop for necessities, exercise - allowed with one other person from another household, care for someone, or to seek medical help.

The extraordinary third national squeeze will come into effect as soon as regulations are made on Tuesday, but Johnson urged the public to adopt the new rules now. 

The announcement was made after 58,784 new cases were recorded on Monday - a 42 per cent rise on last Monday. 

Department of Health chiefs also posted 407 more deaths, up just 14 per cent on the figure recorded last week.

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