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Coronavirus - Statement No. 7

posted Apr 24, 2020, 12:20 PM by Malcolm Fletcher
Date issued Friday 24th April: 

Dear MSBL bowls family,

It may still be a long way away, but there does now seem to be a glimmer of light at the end of the long tunnel of the bowls suspension caused by the worldwide pandemic.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told a select committee meeting on Wednesday that his department was gathering evidence on which sports can social distance most effectively – and angling, bowls and golf were specifically mentioned during the debate.

The MP said that if it could be proved that such clubs could re-open safely then he would press the Cabinet to consider that option as part of the eventual easing of lockdown restrictions.

But any changes will be in line with public evidence and expert health advice – and, make no mistake, all sports will have to follow Government advice before considering any kind of resumption of action.

In the case of crown green bowls it could mean bowlers at first being allowed to use their club green to practice alone or in their isolated family/home groups, with strict limits as to how many people were on the green at the same time. But clubhouses would remain closed.

Whether that in turn would lead to a return to competitive action in the League of whatever kind is another matter – and it would surely have to start before the end of July to get any kind of meaningful season in.

But for the record, the League has made contingency plans and has asked member clubs to consider 3 fixture options in the hope that we get the green light and that enough players want to play League bowls this year. And obviously what other leagues do would need to be taken into account.

2020 FIXTURE OPTION 1 is - Divide the divisions into two sections (teams that finished 1-3-5-7-9-11-13 last year in one section and those that finished 2-4-6-8-10-12-14 in another section). They play home and away on their usual nights and then the top two meet in a championship decider. No Saturday division.

2020 FIXTURE OPTION 2 - Play home and away fixtures in divisions 1-2-3 on Fridays and Wednesdays, and divisions 4-5-6 on Mondays and Thursdays – with the Thursday and Saturday divisions not played.

FIXTURE OTION 3 - Play 6 home and 6 away fixtures in divisions 1-2-3 on the current designated match night. Divisions 4-5-6 play 5 home and 5 away on the current designated match night. Points would be as previously and points for win would be decided by adding both scores together.

On a positive note, a third member clubs to my knowledge has received a £10,000 grant to help with their survival fight as they are starved of income – and bowlers are once again urged, if they can, to pay their annual subs this year to help play their part.

The second 3 week lockdown period ends on the eve of the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th May – a bank holiday this year – and I’m sure the powers that be will do their utmost to dangle some sort of carrot before us on that landmark date to give us renewed hope that a return to normal life is on the horizon.

However, for the seventh week in a row, the message from your League’s officers remains that they hope all bowlers and their families stay safe, healthy and at home. 

Try and stay positive, keep communicating and always be there for each other.

Malcolm Fletcher (General Secretary)