WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Parks put football on hold during coronavirus crisis

Bookings for pitches are cancelled as players are advised to ‘jog, walk or cycle but forget playing for a team’

20 March, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Regent’s Park is among the parks where football fixtures have been called off

FOOTBALLERS coping with the collapse of the Premier League were hit by another blow this week when matches were effectively banned from public parks due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Royal Parks, which runs St James’s, Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, said on Wednesday it was still encouraging people to stay healthy by exercising in the park.

Jogging, walking and cycling are still approved but team sports would be breaking government advice on “unnecessary social contact” and “social distancing”.

The Royal Parks said it was cancelling all bookings for pitches made from its “The Hub” in Regent’s Park.

Without any way of playing organised sport, grassroots football players had been hoping to continue laying down jumpers for goalposts in flat sections of the park on the weekend.

Tom Jarvis

However, when asked if organised football matches were encouraged, Tom Jarvis, director of parks, said: “The Royal Parks remain open and we encourage people to come along for exercise, recreation and relaxation. People can still go for a walk, run or cycle – or do other exercise outside – provided they are doing so in a way that meets the latest government guidance on social distancing and advice on unnecessary social contact.”

Mr Jarvis added: “We encourage people to come to the parks to boost their physical and mental wellbeing at this time. Staying fit and well is particularly important at the moment.

“We’re ensuring all toilets across all eight London parks are free of charge until the end of March, providing public hand-washing facilities, as long as it is possible to staff the facilities.

“We’ll continue to review the situation.

“We’re closing park offices to the public until further notice. For emergencies, please phone the park office or call the police.”

The Premier League and Football League has been suspended until next month at least.

Youth leagues have also been called off by operators.

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