by Garry Clarke
THE return of football is getting closer with Rylands FC announcing pre-season fixtures ahead of the 2020/21 season which is scheduled for September.
Rylands, whose North West Counties League season is due to kick off on Saturday 5th September have confirmed their opening friendly games, the first away at South Liverpool of the West Cheshire League on Tuesday 5th August followed by the visit to Gorsey Lane of Northern Premier League Ashton United on Saturday 8th August. However, due to current Covid-19 guidelines, these are scheduled to be played behind closed doors unless Government advice changes.
Rylands could be in competitive action sooner as the FA Cup extra preliminary round is scheduled to open the season on Tuesday 1st September.
However, all dates are subject to change in accordance with Government guidance and approval for paying spectators.
Before games can take place clubs will have to comply with a number of procedural changes to the way they operate including appointing a COVID-19 Officer who will have responsibility to ensure that Club Risk Assessments are completed and actions undertaken.
Although there has been no on field action since March, Rylands have experienced a busy summer with the opening of Stretties Sports Bar in the pavilion, ongoing ground improvements, the filming of a TV advert at Gorsey Lane and the launch of new home and away kits by Puma which are available through a new on line shop.
Having been back in training – socially distanced small groups – since mid-June, Rylands have not announced the signings of any new players yet with the only movement has been the departure of Mike Emery due to the goalkeeper relocating to Wakefield for work.
Rylands who earlier in the summer welcomed Dave Mannix and Stuart Wellstead onto their coaching staff have also bid farewell to Chris Finnigan, the first team coach having returned to Garswood United where he has taken over as Chairman of the Cheshire League club.